BASKETBALL: Longtime Decatur basketball coach Kevin Olson steps down, takes Auburn Riverside job

Kevin Olson is stepping down as the head boys basketball coach at Decatur High School after 14 seasons at the helm. Olson is set to take over the program at Auburn Riverside next season.

Kevin Olson is stepping down as the head boys basketball coach at Decatur High School after 14 seasons at the helm. Olson is set to take over the program at Auburn Riverside next season.

“Definite mixed emotions,” Olson said. “Very sad to leave Decatur, yet very excited for the opportunity at Riverside.”

During his 14 seasons as the head of the Gator program, Olson finished with an overall record of 195-145. Decatur played at six-straight state tournaments from 2007 through 2012 under Olson, finishing with a fifth-place trophy during the 2008 season and were seventh in 2010. The Gators also played at every West Central District Tournament for the last 10 years and won the district title in 2007.

“It was very tough to tell Decatur Principal David Brower because I think very highly of him and it felt as though I was letting him down both when I first told him I was applying and then again when I had accepted the AR offer,” Olson said. “Telling the players was tough too, but I really think it’s time for a new voice to lead the program. A new energy to get Decatur the kids from our feeder schools. The change will be good for them going forward.”

Olson also resigned as the boys golf coach at Decatur and will teach math at Auburn Riverside in the fall.

“I really think it’s important to be in the building as a head coach,” Olson said.

During Olson’s tenure as the basketball coach, the Gators have sent numerous players on to four-year college programs. The list includes JaRon Brown (Montana Western), Sted Richardson (Northwest University), Darious Walker (Northwest Nazarene), Cam Schilling (PLU), Marcus Tibbs (University of Victoria) and Jerron Smith (Portland State).

“The one that really put us on the map was Marcus Tibbs,” Olson said of Tibbs, who graduated in 2009. “His never-ending smile, unparalleled competitiveness, his clutch play made coaching so much fun. I just love that kid to death. It’s not really fair to say he was my favorite, but he was sure special and his love and loyalty for Decatur never wavered from the day I met him.”

The Gators finished 6-15 last season with a very young team. Decatur will be returning its three leading scorers, including sophomores Deonte Smith (10.0 points) and Palofino Jatta (7.6) and junior Malik Wade (6.7).

“There are so many great memories,” Olson said. “The 2007 West Central District Championship, climbing the ladder, cutting down the net, was an unbelievable feeling as a coach. You see it on TV, but to actually be able to do it is such a thrill.”

Decatur will be moving up to the Class 4A South Puget Sound League North Division next fall. The Gators have played the last four years as a Class 3A school.

But Olson and the Auburn Riverside Ravens will be doing the opposite in the fall. Auburn Riverside will be moving from the 4A SPSL North into the SPSL 3A. The Ravens finished 11-10 last season and were 8-8 in the SPSL North. Auburn Riverside qualified for the SPSL Tournament, but lost to Emerald Ridge in the opening round.

“The school reminds me of a Decatur I knew 8 to 10 years ago,” Olson said about Riverside. “Beaming with school pride, spirit, excitement, positive energy, add to that some good basketball talent, and I’m hoping my coaching experience will possibly be the difference for them reaching some new school milestones. It really just felt like the right time for a new challenge.”


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