Former Bemidji State women’s coach Bruce Olson died Tuesday morning in a Rochester, Minn., hospital where he had been receiving care for the past two weeks in his battle with cancer.
He was 55.
Olson, who played at Minnesota-Duluth from 1975-79, was named the third head coach in BSU women’s history prior to the 2002-03 campaign and continued through the end of the 2005 calendar year. During his tenure at Bemidji State, he led the team to the WCHA postseason in 2003 and 2005, coached the program’s first All-WCHA pick, Amber Fryklund, who ended her playing days as the lone 100-point scorer (122) in school history and retuned to BSU as an assistant coach in 2010.
“We are all tremendously saddened by the loss of coach Olson,” said WCHA associate commissioner and head of the women’s league Sara R. Martin in a statement. “He was a great coach, teacher and leader of student-athletes and he will always be an important part of the legacy of women’s ice hockey at the collegiate level. We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to his entire family at this most difficult time.”
Following his time at Bemidji State, Olson served as co-head coach and later assistant coach of the Warroad (Minn.) High School boy’s hockey team. He also coached at Minot (N.D.) High School and Roseau (Minn.) High School, leading Roseau to the state title in 1999.
Olson took a one-year leave of absence from Roseau in 1999-20000, spending that year working on a master’s degree in educational leadership at North Dakota. During that year, Olson also took over head coaching duties for the UND women’s club team and helped set the stage for the elevation of the club program to NCAA varsity status. UND made its debut at the Division I level in the 2002-03 season.
There is currently no word on funeral arrangements.