Olsen signs letter of intent to play football at North Dakota


Weiser High School senior Ryndon Olsen has signed a letter of commitment to play football at North Dakota State College of Science. Pictured with him are his parents Sharona and Ryan Olsen, and younger sister, Clara Mae.
By: 
Philip A. Janquart
Weiser High School senior Ryndon Olsen has signed a letter of intent to play football at North Dakota State College of Science.
 Family, friends, coaches, and administrators gathered in the school’s foyer where he made his commitment, and transition to a Wildcat, official on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
 “I want to play football, but I also want go through their meat-cutting program,” he told the Signal American.
 Located in Wahpeton, N.D., the school is part of the Mon-Dak (Montana-Dakota) Conference and is affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association.
 Ryndon, who will be attending NDSCS on an academic scholarship, was the WHS varsity football team’s starting kicker, earning the spot as a sophomore during the 2021 season and helping the Wolverines to a 3A State Championship that year.
 Since Div. III JCs cannot offer scholarships, he will be joining the team as a non-scholarship athlete.
 Ryndon, who grew up on a cattle ranch and farm near Annex, Ore., specifically sought a school where he could extend his football career while learning the art of commercial meat cutting.
 “He wants to be a custom butcher, kind of like Gilmore (Meats) here in Weiser and Boston Beef (House) in Ontario,” said Ryndon’s dad Ryan. “He wants to someday open a butcher shop and smoke shop.”
 As a hunter, Ryndon has already developed some of the necessary skills through his experience dressing out animals. 
 His chosen school is one of the few in the country that has a football team and the specific career program he was looking for.
 “There aren’t many technical colleges that have a football team and a meat-cutting program,” said Ryndon’s mom Sharona.
 The family recently returned from a trip to visit the NDSCS campus.
 “Yeah, we were just down there last week,” Ryndon said. “It was great; it’s like a small, four-year college.”
 Like many football kickers, Ryndon started out on the soccer field.
 “I used to play soccer and my mom was the girls soccer coach,” he said.
 Sharona was the WHS head girls’ soccer coach from about 2008 to 2016.
 “Yeah, he grew up on a soccer field,” she said. “When he was little, he was always running around in the middle of practice. That’s where he learned how to kick a ball.”
 At his dad’s prompting, Ryndon ended up trying out for Weiser’s JV football team his freshman year.
 “He had never played football before and I said, ‘Ryndon, if you hate it, I’ll never ask you to do it again,’” Ryan explained. “By the end of his freshman year, he was starting at running back and linebacker, but by then, it became apparent they needed a kicker.”
 Ryndon was also a kick returner and, one day, while receiving kicks during practice, he began kicking them back.
 “The coaches said, ‘Hey, wait a minute,” Ryan said. 
 From that point on, Ryndon would concentrate all his efforts on advancing his skills.
 He eventually enlisted the help of current Boise State University staffer Tyler Rausa, a former Lou Groza Award semifinalist and All-Mountain West honoree during his years as a Bronco kicker between 2013 and 2016. He most recently played in the USFL for the Tampa Bay Bandits.
 Ryndon ultimately became Weiser’s starting kicker and even attended a couple camps, which included the Kicking World camp in Bellevue, Wash. and the RARE Academy at Centennial High School in Meridian where he finished third in the camp’s kicking competition. He finished behind Martin Connington who recently signed with the University of Michigan and Joshua Horn who signed with Boise State.
 But for the most part, kicking became a family affair, Ryan spending most nights shagging balls for his son, alongside Sharona and their two daughters.
 “I bet I shagged 10,000 balls,” Ryan chuckled. “It was almost every day.”
 “It was rain, snow, or shine; it didn’t matter because he had to be out there,” Sharona said. “And then, sometimes, if he was going to be kicking on a turf field, we’d drive an hour away so he could practice. Middleton (High School) was really nice to us, and so was Mountain View (High School in Meridian).”
 Ryndon said he appreciates the sacrifices his family has made, but also gave credit to Rausa and former WHS long snapper Carter Jensen and holder Jack Shirts.
 “They were perfect almost every time and I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.
 Through three years as WHS’s kicker, Ryndon notched 220 kickoffs, with a total of 66 of them going for touchbacks, for an average of 54.1 yards per kickoff. He nailed 159 of 172 point after attempts and was 11 for 18 in the field goal department.
 

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