Olsen about to blow the candle
Flashback first year high school, we were around 45 in the class with twenty new students and nine of them coming from the tulong dunong scholarship program. My class of 1-H was a collection of virtual unknowns and a group of newbies trying to belong. There was a big rumble in the school at one time with three fraternities fighting it over and the venue was our classroom since no one really cared if there was a fight since no one was courageous enough to tell the upperclassmen not to use our classroom as fight venue. Little did everyone know that it was the class of Rodericko Racela who is more known for his unique nickname Olsen. This was 27 years ago.
Good friend Freddie Abuda
Olsen came from Lourdes QC and the other basketball star from that school Hector Fernandez was also our classmate. We all tried out for the PAYA Aspirants basketball team as freshmen with Hector making the grade while i was cut on the last day while Olsen was booted right away - shades of Michael Jordan right. There is one thing that defined Olsen then which has been his ticket until now and that is his being hardworking. After being snubbed that semester Olsen worked hard on his game, his defense and his playmaking skills, the next year he got accepted.
Our class would have inter-barkada basketball competitions and the team of Olsen prevailed over the high scoring team of another UAAP juniors player Michael "Mori" Morales. Eventually they would team up to win the 1986 UAAP Juniors title with Coach Chot Reyes steering the Blue Eaglets to a 14 -0 sweep. In that team Olsen was the third point guard called as he would wait for his turn to spell either third year guard Billy del Rosario and co Senior guard Alfie Manlulo who later on went to play for the UP Fighting Maroons. Olsen didn't mind but when he got the chance to play he would use those minutes to shine.
After High School, Olsen tried out for the Blue Eagles but then didn't get the nod of Coach Cris Calilan back then. Coach Cris was waiting for a recruit to join the Blue and White but that recruit decided to try his luck to the hottest team in the UAAP then, the UP Maroons. There was an opening for the back up point guard position and as luck has it Olsen was called back to try out once again and this time he got the slot. Olsen would go on to play for five years for the Blue Eagles, in those years he also played in the PBL for various teams like Crispa and A & W. He also served the country in the 17 and under and 19 and under National Teams. When he applied for the PBA Draft Olsen was taken by Purefoods as the 12th pick in the second round in 1993. The person who first discovered him gave him another chance to shine as Coach Chot Reyes called him to back up veteran Frankie Lim for Purefoods. In 1997 Coach Ron Jacobs got Olsen to play for the San Miguel Beermen and it was the defining moment of his career for until now he has defined the role of the point guard in the PBA.
Olsen's lovely wife Melissa
Who would have known that a scrappy reed thin freshman struggling to belong in the Ateneo would become one of the most respected PBA players. The 1987 Ateneo Blue Eagles was one of the more star studded teams in recent years with Jun Reyes, Jay Gayoso, Alex Araneta, Eric Reyes, Nonoy Chuatico making it to the PBA. Danny Francisco, Jet Nieto, Mel Basa and Joseph Canlas would have been shoo-ins for the PBA have they opted to continue playing. Olsen was the youngest player in that team and eventually became the best PBA player that the Ateneo has ever produced. Here is one story that shows that hardwork , discipline and determination is the best recipe for success. Happy 40th Birthday Olsen and Congratulations and we your 4E 1987 classmates are all proud of what you have accomplished.