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From Captain to Coach

By WBH, 07/15/22, 10:00AM CDT


Former Hawk Olson Hired as Waterloo’s New Assistant

Brett Olson skated for the Waterloo Black Hawks for three years en route to a successful college and professional career; on Friday, the Hawks announced Olson has returned to the organization as an assistant coach.
After coming to Waterloo in 2005, Olson was voted team captain during the 2007/08 season.  He held the same role as an upperclassman at Michigan Tech, then began a 10-year professional career in 2012, playing in the American Hockey League and Europe.  Friday’s announcement marks the beginning of Olson’s fulltime coaching career.  He will primarily work with Black Hawks forwards.

"We are ecstatic to welcome Brett on board,” said Waterloo General Manager Bryn Chyzyk. “Throughout the hiring process, it was great to hear him talk about his views on the game of hockey. After he shared his perspective on individual player development, it was evident that he was a natural fit for our organization." 

Olson first dipped his toe into coaching for the Black Hawks in 2008.  As a college student, and later during his professional career, he assisted during Waterloo Orientation and Futures Camps.  He is also the founder and head instructor for the Twin Ports Pro Development Camp, which has been held in Superior, Wisconsin, each summer for the past seven years.

“Brett's attention to detail, ability to communicate, and thoughtfulness are going to make him a wonderful addition to our coaching staff, and an outstanding resource for our players,” said Black Hawks Head Coach Matt Smaby.  “He has a wealth of experience to draw from, starting with his time in Waterloo, his college career, and his time playing professional hockey in North America and Europe. Brett will be a big asset to our organization both on and off the ice.”

There are not many players better than Olson to demonstrate the development potential of the United States Hockey League.  Early in his rookie season, he was released by the Sioux City Musketeers, finding his way to Waterloo by late November.  Although the Hawks struggled that season, Olson was among the team’s plus/minus leaders (+1) and proved his value as a penalty-killer, in addition to producing 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 44 games.
A year later, the Hawks rocketed to the top of the league with a then-club record 39 wins, earning the Anderson Cup.  The Superior, Wisconsin, native delivered nine goals and 13 assists over 52 contests with a +9 differential.  He was even better in the postseason with seven points (three goals, four assists) in nine games as Waterloo reached the Clark Cup Final.
Had Olson not been sidelined by an injury in the early weeks of 2007/08, he might have led the Hawks in scoring that winter.  As it was, Olson’s breakout third season started with at least one point in each of his first nine games.  By the end, it included more than a point per appearance (54 points in 49 contests) as the 20-year-old notched 17 goals and 37 assists.  His scoring total was third on the squad.  Olson’s postseason in 2008 featured another 10 points in 11 games.  His overtime goal versus the Omaha Lancers gave the Hawks a Game One win during the championship round, although Omaha eventually claimed the series in five.

“My family and I are looking forward to beginning this new chapter,” Olson said.  “Having familiarity with Waterloo and the Cedar Valley made the decision to return that much easier. The Black Hawks played the most important development role in my career, and I am looking forward to working with the players to guide them along their developmental journeys as well.”

From Waterloo, Olson advanced to Michigan Tech.  He finished either first or second in scoring for the Huskies during three of his four seasons.  The exception – his junior year – was a campaign in which he missed more than half of Michigan Tech’s games due to injury.  Nonetheless, in 127 NCAA matchups, Olson had 42 goals and 51 assists.  Seven of his collegiate goals were game-winners.
At the professional level, Olson debuted with the Abbotsford Heat in the fall of 2012.  After two seasons in British Columbia, his next two campaigns were under contract with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, skating for their AHL affiliates in San Antonio and Portland, Maine.  The past six years have found Olson on the ice with teams in Austria or Germany.  All totaled, the now-35-year-old played in over 500 professional regular season games, notching 286 points (116 goals, 170 assists).

“After three seasons in Waterloo, I know I can relate to what the players are experiencing there, and I hope to use my past playing experiences from each level to help the players and the organization have as successful as possible,” said Olson.

Olson’s coaching opportunity came about following the departure of 2021/22 assistant Chad Kolarik, who has taken a new position with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
The Black Hawks begin the new season on September 24th against the Youngstown Phantoms ahead of the team’s home opener on Saturday, October 8th versus the Tri-City Storm.  Season tickets for the 2022/23 home slate are currently available online from or by calling the team’s front office at (319) 232-3444.