Olson ready for new challenge as Fargo South girls basketball coach

It's the first head coaching gig for the 27-year-old, who spent the previous three seasons as an assistant at Fargo Davies

Former Fargo Davies girls basketball assistant coach Trevor Olson orchestrates a game plan during a timeout in this undated file photo. Olson was hired as the head coach of the Fargo South girls basketball team on May 6.
Submitted photo

FARGO — Whoever was going to be selected to succeed Jason Smedshammer as Fargo South's head girls basketball coach knew they would have big shoes to fill.

Trevor Olson is up to the task.

South announced last week that Olson has been hired to lead the Bruins varsity program going forward.

It's the first head coaching gig for the 27-year-old, who has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the girls program at Fargo Davies.

"As a young coach, you're always looking for a chance to improve your experiences for whenever you get your call to take over a program," Olson said. "So any time there's been an opening for the last couple of years, I've tried to apply and that's how it came about."


Olson was interviewed by South activities coordinator Mike Beaton, South principal Todd Bertsch and Fargo Public Schools director of student activities Todd Olson.

"The interview went great, they called me back a couple of days later and here we are," Trevor Olson said.

Olson is a graduate of Hawley (Minn.) High School. Prior to his stint at Davies, Olson worked in many different capacities with several schools across the region. He served as a student assistant and director of basketball operations at Valley City State University and has also helped coach the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton girls basketball program and the Fargo North boys freshman team. Olson also served as a student manager at Minnesota State Moorhead after high school.

Stepping into a head-coaching role for the first time can be nerve-racking, but Olson is more excited for the opportunity than anything else.

"There's a whole lot of excitement, I can tell you that," Olson said. "There was a whole range of emotions when I got the phone call offering me the job. I've worked at a lot of levels of basketball and I've put a lot of time in coaching. Not just since I've graduated high school, but for three years of high school I was fortunate enough to have a phenomenal mentor in (Hawley girls basketball coach) Bill Gottenberg and his assistant Ben Lofgren with the girls program there.

"So there's a lot of excitement and of course there's nerves because you want to be giving the kids the best opportunity and you want to make sure you're doing everything you can for the kids and that aspect of it. But as far as the expectations for myself, I never want to feel like I've done enough. I always want there to be more and to find something else for my kids to do and for our program to start taking steps forward over the next couple of years."

Smedshammer, who was head coach of the Bruins from 2011-22 and served as an assistant from 1999-11, retired from coaching following the 2021-22 season.

"I've already been in contact with (Smedshammer) a little bit," Olson said. "He's been fully supportive and he's been fully open with sharing everything that he has access to and walking you through stuff. I just look forward to the expectations of those big shoes that he's left to be filled."


Olson also worked under the wings of Davies girls head coach Tonah Safranski for the last two seasons, a veteran coach who also served as a mentor to Olson.

"It's indescribable everything that she's done for me," Olson said. "She's put me in full control of the program. She's not the type of head coach that bosses you into doing something — you sit down and work with and develop the plan together. And seeing how a head coach like herself who's been doing this as long as she has and has as much experience as she has — and seeing how her thought process works has been indescribable.

"I've worked for a lot of head coaches and she's by far the best communicator. And what I mean by that is the way she talks to kids. That's what I took apart from anything. There's not a whole lot of sit down and scream at people, because they're kids at the same time and you can't scream at kids. You have to know how to communicate with kids and that's the biggest thing I took away from her these last two years aside from all of the different things she worked with me on and helped me through."

South's last Class A state championship came in 1994 with its last state tournament appearance coming in 2010. The Bruins last won the EDC regular season championship in 2009.

Olson hasn't been slow out of the starting gate, saying that he's already met with the players returning to the program next season.

"I got the chance to meet with them and just let them know that I'm here for them," Olson said. "It's going to be different, obviously — a new coach is always different — but it's going to be fun. We're going to get better and we're going to develop day in and day out. That's the biggest goal. I haven't been one that's been a fan of setting the bar, because when you don't meet that bar, that leads to emotions that aren't always the best for young athletes and we don't want to put too much on their shoulders because life is crazy enough as it is."

It's been only one week since his hiring, but Olson is already excited for the 2022-23 season to commence.

"I wish it was Day 1 of practice in November already," he said. "Just because the feelings of a school as prestigious as Fargo South is in athletics, just to be able to work there is an honor, and I can't wait to bridge the gap and start getting to meet everybody over in that community and that school, and start rebuilding and building back into what once was."

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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