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Monday, April 30, 2012

Meet Inspired Art Gala honoree, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen

D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen (photo: Steve Dykes)
On May 17, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen will accept the Inspiration Award at the third Annual Inspired Art Gala for his work promoting youth development through soccer in the District.

Olsen will be presented the award by John Harkes, an avid supporter of America SCORES programs throughout the country. Harkes has quite the soccer background, having been named to the National Soccer Hall of Fame after a career that included two MLS titles with D.C. United. 

Olsen is the face of soccer in the District, having played for United from 1998-2009 and now in his second full season as head coach. As a player, Olsen was named the 1998 MLS Rookie of the Year and helped lead United to the MLS title in 1999.

Recently, Olsen took a few minutes out of his busy schedule leading second-place United to chat about what it’s like to be DC’s most recognizable soccer figure:

Q: You obviously started playing soccer at a young age. From your experience, what impact does playing on a soccer team growing up have on youth? What values does it instill? 

A: Playing soccer from such a young age has a huge impact – especially because of the level of involvement I had. The friendships and bonds I have made are unbreakable and the experiences have been unforgettable. A few of the biggest values that I have taken from the game, and that I try and instill upon our players today, is having a great work-ethic and making sure you are 100% committed at all times. These values not only translate to success on the soccer field, but for other people across different careers.

Q: How much does it mean to you to be coaching the team you were always associated with during your player career? 

A: D.C. is my home and being able to coach the most storied MLS club is a huge honor that I don’t take lightly. I gave everything to this club when I was playing and continue to do so today as a coach. So at the end of the day, it is a special feeling to be a part of the D.C. United family.

Q: What's your favorite part about being a coach? 

A: My favorite part about coaching is being able to guide people in the right direction and help orchestrate a team that gives everything, every single time they step on the field.

Q: What's the most frustrating thing about being on the sideline? 

A: The most frustrating part of being on the sideline and coaching is that I don’t get to play in the games anymore.

Q: How many games are United going to win this year and how many MLS championships are you going to celebrate during your coaching career? 

A: My number one priority is to get this team to the playoffs and to win the MLS Cup.

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