NMHS grad Olson looks forward to June MLB draft
In just a few weeks, Jackson Olson of New Milford will find out if he will be drafted to play in Major League Baseball.
The draft is set for June 10, with just five rounds planned instead of 40.
Jackson, 22, graduated summa cum laude this month from the University of Hartford with a marketing degree, where he is the starting short stop for Division 1 Baseball.
“I knew I wanted to play professionally when I was a freshman in college,” said the 2016 New Milford High School graduate, who recalled fellow student-athletes at the university being drafted.
As of last week, Olson had already had conversations with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Minnesota Twins and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Whether his lifelong dream to play professionally will come true next month is out of his hands.
But he’s not taking his eye off the ball.
Olson is in the process of transferring to the University of Stetson in Florida, where through the NCAA he would be able to play another year if he isn’t drafted this year, which would allow him one more year to play ball and have a chance at next year’s draft.
“As a high school coach of four different sports over a 46-year career, this is what is most rewarding, seeing your players continue on with the potential they showed in high school and expanding on that and turning out to be an outstanding student and athlete and person like Jackson has,” said John Wrenn, who taught and coached Olson at NMHS.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, commencement exercises were not held.
“He’s the hardest worker you’ll ever find, on the field and in the classroom,” said Olson’s father, Don. “He is focused for success.”
Wrenn remembered Olson as always being “prepared for class” and “willing to ask questions when he needed to.”
“I could tell early on that if he carried his work ethic from the classroom onto the field that he would be outstanding,” said Wrenn, who first met and taught Olson his freshman year.
Olson began playing baseball at age 5. His father coached his first travel team and continued coaching him up until he was 15.
At age 7, Olson played with 9-year-olds.
“I was so scared about it but then I thought, ‘I can play with these kids,’” said Olson. “It wasn’t that different, and it gave me a lot of confidence.”
As a freshman in high school, he started on the freshman baseball team but by mid-year had advanced to JV and, toward the end of the year, made varsity.
“It was cool,” said Olson of making varsity as a freshman, an experience that further opened his eyes to his preference to play with older, more advanced players because it afforded him the opportunity challenge himself.
“I always wanted to play with them because that’s how I would get better,” he related.
Olson played varsity his sophomore through senior years at NMHS. The latter two years became his breakout years and drew coaches from Division 1 schools to Olson’s doorstep.
“He was the best player on a very good team with some tremendous athletes,” Wrenn said of Olson. “He worked non-stop, as he still does, to get better every day, a trait that only the best players share.”
“He has God-given talent and a personal work ethic second to none,” he said.
Fordham, Boston College and UConn were among the colleges that sought Olson, who had been an All State athlete in baseball at NMHS.
However, it was Coach Justin Blood’s interest in Olson and the “good offer” that helped make Olson’s decision to attend the University of Hartford.
“He said, ‘You’re gonna be out guy, our shortstop,’” Olson recalled the coach saying to him.
It was during his first year at the college Olson witnessed a fellow teammate, a junior, get drafted by the Pirates in the 23rd round.
“He was the kid I really looked up to,” Olson said. “He talked to almost every major league team.”
Olson’s lifelong passion for baseball and dream of going professional does not come without focus and hard work.
He was recently named to the Dean’s List and the President’s List for all eight semesters of his college career.
Jackson, who graduated with a 3.82 GPA from the university’s Barney School of Business, is the only baseball player in the entire conference to be recognized for the award.
To qualify, a student-athlete must have a GPA of 3.75 for their collegiate career.
He is one of only six University of Hartford baseball athletes to make the America East Conference academic all-conference team in all three years of eligibility, and the only America East Conferences baseball player of the 74 athletes honored as a Presidential Scholar award winner.
Olson credits his successes to time management.
He described the balance he has had to strike academically, athletically and personally.
Last fall, for example, he participated in an internship that required 200 hours, took five classes and played baseball.
“That really tested me,” he acknowledged. “That was 24 hours a day I was go, go, go. I’d get like five hours of sleep. But I got into a routine.”
“And you have to have good time management skills, you have to have them,” he said.
“If I had advice to give a high school kid, if you want to succeed academically and athletically, you have to have good time management,” he summed up.
Wrenn praised Olson for his accomplishments thus far, but acknowledged this is “only the beginning of the complete story of Jackson Olson.”
“He will be playing professional baseball soon and eventually will turn that 3.82 GPA into an outstanding career,” Wrenn said.
“But best of all is the man that he has turned out to be,” he said. “He has made his hometown proud of him.”