By Tim Petermann, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) - Jeff West, who is in his fifth season as an assistant coach with the UW-Eau Claire women's softball program, is the recipient of the 2018 Ade & Margaret Olson Coaching Award.
The award will be presented at the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Hall of Fame banquet Friday, October 5. The banquet is open to the public and tickets, which are $25, can be obtained by contacting the UWEC Alumni Office at 715 836-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The awards program will begin at 6:30 p.m. preceded by a social at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m.
The Ade & Margaret Olson Coaching Award is a $500 cash stipend available to any part-time assistant coach, graduate assistant or community coach in any of the 22 sports in the Blugold sports module. The award honors the memory of two UW-Eau Claire legends who dedicated their teaching to helping students achieve their education goals. Ade Olson was a charter member of the Blugold Hall of Fame in 1973. The criteria for the award named in honor of Olson and his wife Margaret dictate that the recipient "demonstrate a deep commitment to the student athletes and embody a passion for lifelong learning and a love of the game."
West is an Eau Claire area businessman who is passionate about the game of softball. He serves as a volunteer hitting coach for the Blugold softball program. Head coach Leslie Huntington said West "has spent countless hours studying the intricate details of hitting. It's not uncommon for Jeff to gather video clips of our players at practice, then go home and analyze those clips, write up a summary, and send it to each player before he goes to bed." She continued, "He cares so deeply about our players and their success. He treats our players like his own daughters." West has three daughters: Kaitlyn 24, Lindsey 19, and Kylie 17.
Huntington described an instance of West's dedication to the program. "Three years ago, Jeff wanted to pick the brain of Alabama's head coach Patrick Murphy. So he told me that if I was able to set up a trip to Tuscaloosa to spend a few days watching Alabama practice and talking to Coach Murphy, he would pay for the airline tickets. We were able to make that trip and spend three days learning from one of the top Division I softball programs in the country."
According to Huntington, West challenges the status quo of the program and strives to be on the cutting edge. "Last summer, Jeff reached out to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge's personal hitting coach (Richard Schenck) and was able to bring him here to do a clinic for community players and coaches, as well as a private session for our team."
West played fastpitch for eight years and has now coached for 17 years. Besides assisting the Blugold program, he coached two years at Fall Creek High School and helped the Crickets win their first conference championship in 27 years. He produced a 146-78 record in 10 years with the Inferno travel team and coached 13 years in the Chippewa Valley rec league.
West and his wife Shelley own their own company, Bear Down Inc. which is dedicated to working with business owners and executive teams in coaching and consulting to facilitate better outcomes. In January, 2013, West formed Business Partners peer groups as a forum for local business owners to learn from each other, share their experiences and help challenge each other to reach their goals. His 35-plus years of business experience include being part of four high tech start-up companies. He was a founder and CEO/President of Silicon Logic Engineering from 1996 to 2008.
The previous Olson award winners were Becca Bestul, Jodi Risen, Derrick Swanigan, Emily Muller and Greg Peterson.