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.

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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.

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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. 

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

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