Editor's note: This story first appeared in the spring 2019 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.
At Concordia, being a Falcon is about developing as an individual, both in and out of the game, and countless CUW athletes are a testament to that fact. Here are just a few of Concordia’s “uncommon” athletes. Read more about Concordia’s “uncommon” approach to athletics here.
Matt Olig has come a long way since his first weeks at Concordia.
The Plymouth, Wisconsin, native—now a senior in CUW’s accelerated occupational therapy program and starting pitcher on the baseball team—was recruited to CUW for baseball, but a necessary elbow surgery the summer before his freshman year meant he needed to sit out his entire first season.
Olig knew this going in, but when he got onto the field for fall practices the situation started to take a toll.
“Going to practice every day and not being able to play started to drag me down,” Olig says. “I got into some trouble early on and realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be.”
That trouble involved a misguided decision involving alcohol less than a month into school. Olig says he hit a turning point thanks in part to two of his fellow student-athletes, Chris Kornowski (’18) and Kaitlyn Saugstad (’18), who extended Christian love to him and “took him under their wings.”
From then on, Olig’s faith grew through regular on-campus Bible study attendance, frequent heart-to-hearts with Director of Faith Integration for Athletics Dr. Jim Juergensen, and a solid friend group of fellow Christians.
He became involved in community outreach and started leading volunteer efforts among his teammates. Earlier this year, Olig was included in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article titled, “With little free time, college student-athletes are an example for all of us by volunteering,” and Fox6 News featured him on a segment about a baseball clinic he helped organize for individuals with Down’s syndrome.
As team captain of the baseball team this year, Olig says he’s taking his cues from a former captain of the team, Isaac Tewes (’17), who has gone on to seminary.
“Isaac really showed me what kind of platform a captain can have,” Olig says. “I recognize that some of my teammates aren’t going to feel the way I do about faith and that’s OK, but I want them to know God is always there.”
To that end, Olig launched a team Bible study this past spring, and he continues to strive to live as an example both on and off the field. Today, anyone who knows him will say he’s a model of faith and excellence.
“It’s not how I wanted my college experience to start, but it was something I had to own up to and then start writing my next page,” Olig says.
“I’m very glad that I decided to come to Concordia,” he continues. “The faith element really sets the school apart from a lot of other places. I don’t know that if I was at another school that my story would have ended up the same. I’m just very grateful that I had the resources and people at Concordia to help me get from where I was to where I am today.”
The spring 2019 Concordian hit mailboxes the beginning of May. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333.
— Kali Thiel is director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at email@example.com or 262-243-2149.
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