Weldon “Weldy” Olson

Timeout with Dustin Sullivan

Guest – Weldon “Weldy” Olson

Podcast release date – September 22, 2022

Season 1, Episode 5

Announcer Elaine - Welcome to taking a timeout with Dustin Sullivan.  A production of the Kan Du Group.  Kan Du Group is a 501(c)3 non-profit provider of day services for adults with developmental disabilities and is pleased to bring you this podcast.  Today Dustin’s guest is Weldon “Weldy” Olson.  Weldy is a native of Marquette Michigan and the youngest of nine hockey playing brothers.  He attended Michigan State University and played hockey for four seasons while attending Michigan State.  He scored 71 goals and had 54 assists for a total of 125 career points.  He was a leading goal scorer in each season he played and skated every game during his Michigan State University career.   Following his stellar college career Weldy was a member of the USA national and Olympic hockey teams and played on the 1956 Olympic silver metal and 1960 Olympic gold metal teams.  Weldy has been inducted into the Michigan amateur sports hall of fame, the upper peninsula sports hall of fame, the Michigan State University Hall of Fame, the Hancock County Ohio sports hall of fame, and November 2nd 2018 was declared Weldy Olson day by the city of Findlay.    And now I will turn the mic over to Dustin Sullivan. 

Dustin – Since you went to Michigan State, I’ve got something for you.  Go green, go white.  So are you ready Weldy?

Weldy – I’m all set. 

Dustin – Where are you originally from?

Weldy – Originally from Marquette Michigan that’s up along Lake Superior in the upper peninsula of Michigan. 

Dustin – I’ve heard that’s a beautiful place.

Weldy – The whole UP is beautiful.

Dustin – So you had 9 brothers and 2 sisters, correct?

Weldy – Eight brothers and two sisters.  Nine boys and two girls. 

Dustin – So what was it like growing up as the youngest of such a large family?

Weldy – Well first of all it was crowded. 

Dustin – That’s gotta cost a lot of money for groceries.

Weldy – Yes it did but we never went hungry that I remember. And there’s one thing you have to remember that the older brothers five of them were in the second world war. 

Dustin – That’s awesome. 

Weldy – So it was an empty house for a while, but my mother had died in 1940 so I was only seven. 

Elaine – I’m the youngest of six and everyone always called me the spoiled brat.  Were you the spoiled one of the group?

Weldy – They’re telling me that now and have been for about 50 years. 

Dustin – So are any of your brothers still alive or not anymore?

Weldy – Just one my brother Marc lives in Illinois he’s 95.  And incidentally he was the most valuable player at Michigan Tech University three of his four years playing up there. 

Dustin – That’s pretty impressive.  It seems you were dedicated to Michigan Tech, right?

Weldy – At the beginning yeah, in fact my money is still there from registration. 

Dustin – Following in the footsteps of some of your brothers.  Did anyone in the family go to other colleges?

Weldy – My brother Paul went to Northern Michigan, which is at Marquette, but Marquette had no hockey. 

Dustin – That’s crazy. The Michigan Tech coach moved to Michigan State and had you join him there.  Do you still hold the record as the all-time goal scorer at Michigan State University?

Weldy – No.  A fellow by the name of Tom Ross made over 300 total points and probably 200 and some goals.  One thing you’ve got to remember, our maximum seasons were 23 34 goals.  His maximum season when he played was 40 to 45 games a year. 

Dustin – That’s insane.

Weldy – The other thing is Tommy was in my junior hockey league when I was running the junior hockey league in Detroit. 

Dustin – So how many years did you actually own the scoring record at Michigan State

Weldy – Oh probably 8 or 10.

Dustin – That’s quite a long time.

Weldy – Well at that time things were in a developmental time

Dustin – Things are a lot different now

Weldy – yes

Dustin – So what number did you wear?

Weldy – 14 at Michigan State, 14 my first year in the Olympics but 16 was my number in the 60 Olympics

Dustin – That’s a great number to have.

Elaine – Why did you have to switch your number?

Weldy – Well it’s a story behind that.  In 1956 the game against Canada we had to go about 3 miles when we were in Italy, we had to go about 3 miles on the bus.  I went into my bag to pick up the rest of my equipment I found out I had left my jersey, number 14, back at the hotel.  So, the coach looked over at one of the other players Dick Rosenhower from Boston and he said Dick give Oler your jersey.  So, I wore his number 16.  So, when it came to the 1960 Olympics I was the veteran with the most time in so they said what jersey do you want to wear and I said I ‘ll think I’ll wear 16 and see if we can beat Canada again.  And we did.

Dustin – Did you have any pregame routines?

Weldy – Nothing special for being left skate first.  That was the only one I really worried about. 

Dustin – Do you have any superstitions? Wear only a certain color of socks for example.

Weldy – No.  I’ve never had the luxury of

Elaine – It didn’t throw you off going from 14 to 16?

Weldy – No it didn’t. It didn’t bother me I didn’t know what I had on the back, but I knew I had USA on the front. 

Dustin – The only bummer is when you were 14 you had the same number as Pete Rose, I think. 

Weldy – Is that right? Didn’t realize that

Dustin – Was there any hockey player you feared the most?

Weldy – Not really.  You know whoever you’re playing against. There was a Sweetish player Lassie Bjorn he made sure I went to the dentist.  He hit me with a stick and took out 10 teeth. 

Dustin – Ouch

Elaine – Were you out the rest of that game then?

Weldy – The rest of that game I was.  And I missed one game.  I’ve finished the team was going to Finland, but I had to stay in Stockholm to get my teeth worked on and the one trip we would have made to Finland I missed. 

Dustin – That’s a bummer.  How were you asked to be on the Olympic US hockey team?

Weldy – Well in 1956 there were six training camps around the country.  One was in Ann Arbor Michigan and the coach at Michigan was running the tryouts.  I had played four games against him every year.  And so, he just passed me on to the final training camp.  In Minneapolis and from Minneapolis 25 were selected to go to Duluth Minnesota and we started our final tryouts in Duluth.  And took the 25 players that went there down to the 17 players that would play in the Olympics. 

Dustin – That’s pretty cool.  That’s a lot of training camps. 

Weldy – It was about 300 total. 

Dustin – We would love to see your metals.  Can you tell us about each one of them?

Weldy – Sure.  They’re right in front of us here.  Now if you notice the metals are in the Olympic ring symbols.  Three rings on the top with the two rings on the bottom.  This is the silver metal from 1956 and this is the gold metal from 1960.  At the same time when you were in the Olympics at that time in history if you were an Olympic champion, you were also the world champion.  And that’s why we had the two medals on the bottom the silver medal and the gold medal.  Now 1980 the next team to win gold for the US they did not play in this.  No there was no tournament in 1980. 

Elaine -Did you play games for this?

Weldy – No.  It was automatic if you won whichever one you won.  The thing is this is merely a name of what you call a disk with my name and the two years only to fill out the Olympic ring. 

Elaine – Did somebody make this for you?

Weldy – Yes.  There’s only five of us in the United States that have this set of metals.  There’s a young lady that has silver and gold but obviously it wasn’t in hockey.  Figure skater Carole Heiss who now lives in the Cleveland area. 

Dustin – Nice metals.

Weldy – Yeah, they’re very nice.  I always say they belong to the nation they don’t belong to me. But I’ll take care of them for a while. 

Elaine – Where’d you play for this Olympics?

Weldy – The silver metal we got in Quartina Italy.  The gold was in Squa Valley California. 

Elaine – You didn’t have to go far for that one.

Weldy – no.  I wasn’t in the air force in 56.  When I came home, I was number one on the draft list.  So, I had to get into the service.  I joined the air force, so I played in 60 as a representative of the air force as well as the nation.  I was the only air force participant athletic wise in the 60 Olympics. 

Elaine – Do you know the history of that?  Is there any other military that’s been involved?

Weldy – Oh yes, one thing the US military does whenever a national team or competition comes up if you are a player in that sport, they will give you special duty to try out for these teams.  So like in 1960 the in between years I played 57 58 59, they send you to training camp.  If you can make the team, you can play the season.  We had four or five army guys in 60.  Our goal tender Jack McCartin who I think was the best, was the most valuable player at the tournament.  He was in the army.  Felt bad because he had to go back in the army when he was first cut.  They cut him first and then brought him back.  To my way of thinking he was the most valuable player in the tournament. 

Dustin – So you were saying you were in the air force, right?  So, what did you actually do in the air force?

Weldy – I was a surveyor. 

Dustin – What’s a surveyor actually do?

Weldy – Well at that time we were locating radar sites.  I was in the test program for the foreign equipment that they brought in to trace the space at the beginning of the space program. 

Dustin – What was the most memorable thing that happened to you at the Olympics?

Weldy – At the Olympics the biggest thing for me was seeing Pauly Johnson my centerman score the winning goal against Canada in 1960. 

Dustin – That was a long time ago.

Weldy – Yep.

Dustin – Have hockey rules changed over the years?

Weldy – Yes somewhat but it’s basically the same.  Every now and then they adjust the lines the line play.  With the blue lines and the red lines and so on.  And the goal line.  For instance, when we were playing national hockey league rules it was only 10 feet between the front of the net and the backboard. 

Dustin – That’s really close.

Weldy – That’s really close.  The international game moved them out to 12 feet and then eventually it moved out to 15 feet. Well, that changes your game because when you’ve got that much room in the back of the net it’s a lot different than when it’s crowded. 

Dustin – Yea its farther to shoot too.  We have heard about you playing hockey game for the march of dimes with your family.  How did the game come about?

Weldy – That game was a family reunion.  And my brother Marc who’s the 95-year-old he and his wife had a family reunion and offered to play a game for the march of dimes. 

Dustin – That’s a great organization. 

Elaine – So how’d you get everybody pulled together for that?

Weldy – Marc just called everybody and said hey I need you for a game. 

Elaine – Did it fill out the whole game with everybody?

Weldy – There were the nine boys and six of the nephews.  So, we had fifteen we had to play a game against the local senior team that was from Peoria.  Okay so we played them.  We borrowed a goal tender, we borrowed their number two goal tender.  And put him in the nets and then we played.  It was a full game except for the last period we played what we considered fast time because we don’t take the timeouts.  I started the game along with older boys and I was able to score in the first minute and a half.  So that got us off to a 14 to 5 win. 

Dustin – That’s a high scoring game. 

Weldy – Yeah it was.  After the second period we held off a little. 

Dustin – That was nice of you.  If I would have played, I would have kept full force.  Did you play any other sports in school?

Welty – In high school I did.  Tennis and we had 8-man football then. 

Dustin – That’s not very many.

Welty – No. But those were special for small schools I went to a school with only 125 students. 

Dustin – So do you like football?

Weldy – I like football sure.  I like all sports. 

Dustin – What NFL team do you support?

Weldy – NFL?  Detroit Lions. 

Dustin – I like the lions. They’ve had some good players over the years.  I like the Pittsburg Steelers and Ohio State. 

Weldy – Obviously I like Michigan State’s football team. 

Dustin – I like Michigan State better than Michigan. 

Weldy – That’s understandable. 

Dustin – And I’m a big Cincinnati Reds fan. 

Weldy – Oh sure.  That’s great.  Detroit Tigers are my team. 

Dustin – I know one legendary tiger.  I think his name was Al Kayline. 

Weldy – He was a good one.  And he came right out of high school. 

Dustin – You don’t really see that much these days. 

Weldy – One other thing.  There’s one sport that I play that most people don’t play.  Log rolling. 

Dustin – So what is log rolling?

Weldy – The sport is actually called Birling.  That’s when the two guys get on the log and start rolling and one falls off.  There’s one thing you might want to know.  There’s three steps to a championship.  You have the first log called number one its 20 inches in diameter.  It’s only for two minutes.  If both of you keep standing you go on to number two log.  At that time, you went down to three minutes on the number two log.  If you’re both still standing you go down to the number three log which is only 13 inches in diameter. 

Dustin – That’s impressive. 

Weldy – You have six feet on each side that’s your territory.  And you roll them until two out of three falls. 

Dustin – So I heard you say when you came in that you like beer right? If you had to choose to drink one what would it be?

Weldy – Bud light.

Dustin – That’s a good choice.  Do you follow any other sports? What are your favorite professional teams? I think you already told us.  Were you ever asked to play professional hockey? 

Weldy – Only minor league level and actually at our time when I was coming up my brother was playing in the American Hockey league for the Cleveland Bears.  That’s an old team in the American Hockey League. 

Dustin – So are the Cleveland Bears the Chicago Black Hawks now?

Weldy – No.  The Bears were actually New York’s team. 

Dustin – Which New York team?

Weldy – Rangers.  There was only one New York team at that time. 

Dustin – That’s crazy now they’ve got like three or four. The million-dollar question burning in everyone’s thoughts when did you move to Findlay and why?

Weldy – Forty-five years ago.  To become manager of the what is now the cube.  It was Hancock recreation center.  I managed that for a few years.  Then I went back into the rink business as a representative of various components of an ice rink. 

Dustin – So since you’ve lived here for 45 years what’s your favorite thing about Findlay Ohio?

Weldy – Just the atmosphere.  It’s a nice small town I’m from a small town.  It’s about the same as Marquette size wise.  It’s a good city to raise your children. 

Dustin – It’s nice and quiet and peaceful.  And it’s expanded over the years. 

Weldy – Oh yes. 

Dustin- What is your favorite restaurant or food? 

Weldy – My favorite restaurant and food? I think here in Findlay it would be the Beer Barrel. 

Dustin – That’s my favorite too. 

Weldy – My favorite food is chicken strips or whatever they call them at that restaurant. 

Dustin – Now me and you are in the same category.  Do you have any hobbies other than playing hockey?

Weldy – Photography.  When I was younger, especially when I was traveling the US teams the National teams travel all through Europe.  And so I was for instance we were the first team the US team in 1958 of which I was captain, we were the first north American team to go play in Russia. 

Dustin – Awesome.

Weldy – We played in Russia for an exhibition series in 58 and in 59. 

Dustin – What was the first ever car you purchased?

Weldy – First ever car? I was in the air force and one of the fellows that worked with me was selling his Chevy.  For $400 I was able to buy a new Chevy. 

Dustin – Can’t get stuff that cheap these days.

Elaine – I think we could spend so much more time with Mr. Olsen, but we may need to wrap things up soon.  Do you want to ask him your famous last question?

Dustin – It would be an honor.  Do you consider a hot dog a sandwich?

Weldy – Yes. 

Dustin – Thanks for your time.  It was an honor to meet you. 

Weldy – Well I’m glad to come here and I’m glad to meet you. 

Dustin – You seem like a pretty cool guy. 

Weldy – Thank you very much.  So do you.

Dustin - Thank you. 

Kandu Group provides opportunities and experiences for adults with developmental disabilities.  This can only happen with the support of area businesses and community members like you.  Thank you.  For more information contact www.kandugroup.org.