I will never forget that infamous Saturday morning as I was crawling up the final mountain on our home Uijeongbu, Korea course with the salt from my sweat burning my eyes. My lung capacity seemed to be peaked as I was gasping for breath. For 3 miles, all I could ask myself was WHY AM I DOING THIS? Just when I thought death was imminent and I had nothing left to give, I heard an all too familiar voice screaming at the top of the hill “COME ON!!! YOU ARE ALMOST THERE!!!” Under normal circumstances, the tone of coach Olling’s voice yelling in my direction would result in annoyance or frustration. However, it is race day and I needed all the motivation I could get in order to finish.
Coach Brian Olling started coaching cross country at International Christian School- Uijongbu in South Korea during the fall of 1989. In over 26 years of coaching overseas in Korea, Brian has seen hundreds of athletes run in his program (including myself). During those years he has been an important part of building the Korean American Interscholastic Activities Conference (www.kaiac.org).
Brian has been competing as a runner for most of his life. He competed as a NCAA Division 1 athlete for Liberty University from 1982-87 where he found great success and gained national notoriety. There were even serious talks about the Olympics. However, Brian and his new wife Tami felt a different calling and decided to take a step of faith and take a job as a Social Studies teacher at ICS in Korea, while also taking up coaching duties for Cross Country and other sports and also adopting their daughter Moriah during that time. And over 26 years later, Brian and Tami are still there. And Brian is still putting together high quality teams that are not only competitive but possess high integrity.
When asked why he enjoys coaching he responded by saying “I love to coach because I enjoy competition myself and love to see students compete and be successful as well. It is also a great chance to invest my life into others both in sports and spiritually.” Coach Olling also reminisces on some of his best runners such as Erica Rodriguez and Shawn Neuman, who would later run in university. Many athletes have competed under his watch and ICS has seen many All Conference runners over the years.
It doesn’t take long in a conversation to get coach talking about his runners and past seasons. Former students will often testify with a chuckle about how easy it was in the classroom to get coach Olling to get distracted from his lessons by getting him to talk about running. Olling certainly has a passion for his sport and the students he has coached. Olling will tell you that he is a man committed to his family, faith in Christ and his work.
I am blessed to know Brian Olling and his family personally and to have had him as a coach and teacher. Students are thankful for his passion and his longevity as a teacher at the school. Since international schools are very transient it is rare for students to come back to the school they attended and find teachers still there. However, the Ollings are still there for students to find and I pray that they continue. Meanwhile, Coaches Team International wishes to honor you and your family and thank you for the work that you do as a coach overseas and impacting students all over the world. High Five!! and NIKE salute for you!