Lissa Olson begins her fourth season at the University of South Florida in 2011-11 and her third as the associate head coach. Olson's duties include coaching the women's sprints, the horizontal jumps and the women's high jump. She brings with her a resume highlighted by coaching success over a 20-year body of work.
Her second season at USF proved to be just as successful, if not more, than her rookie campaign with the Bulls.
A pair of newcomers in freshman Monique Williams and junior college transfer MaShonda Rayner each took home All-BIG EAST honors at the outdoor championships when they placed third in their respective events. Williams earned the bronze medal in the long jump at 19-6, while Rayner improved her all-time personal best by more than a foot and a half in the triple jump with just one leap at the BIG EAST meet at 39-9.25.
Already a high school state champion, freshman Neamen Wise improved his personal best in the long jump and qualified for the final in a very challenging BIG EAST meet at the outdoor championships. Wise ultimately placed eighth overall with a leap of 23-11, the fourth-longest jump ever at USF.
In her final season at USF, senior Samantha Shade moved into fifth all-time at USF in the long jump and third in the triple jump, with Williams landing at third all-time in the long jump with her BIG EAST mark.
Along with junior Rachel Etienne, three of the top six performances all time at USF in the long jump occurred in 2010.
The 2009-10 season also marked the second year in a row Olson coached the women's 400 hurdles. Both Etienne and senior Kayla Richmond posted personal bests in the event, with Etienne landing in seventh all-time after running a PR of 1:01.30 late in the season.
In her first year at USF, Olson guided sophomore Antillio Bastian to a USF school record in the triple jump, while Shade took fourth in the triple jump at the BIG EAST Championships. In addition, both Shade and Richmond posted personal bests in every indoor and outdoor event they competed in.
Olson joined the USF staff after a season coaching at Linderwood University in 2007-08, where she oversaw the long jump, triple jump and the high jump. In just one year she added to an already impressive resume by coaching jumpers to NAIA national championships in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump, along with All-America performances in the triple jump, high jump and long jump, bringing her total to 18 All-Americans under her mentorship throughout her time in the coaching ranks.
Before her time at Linderwood, Olson was named the head coach for the men's and women's track and field/cross country programs at Purdue University in 2001 after the school combined the two. She held that position until 2004 after serving as an assistant coach with the Boilermakers from 1999-2001. Under her guidance, she led the Boilermakers to some of the most successful seasons in the program's history, and Olson's sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and relay teams were a huge part of that success.
Under Olson's tutelage, high jumper Shaun Guice achieved four consecutive indoor All-America honors to become the only Boilermaker to do so, and also made an appearance at the World University Games. In her seven years with the Boilermakers, Olson coached 14 All-Americans, 10 BIG TEN Champions, six school record holders and two Big Ten Freshmen of the Year.
In addition, the Boilermakers won the women's title at the 1999 outdoor championships as well as the 2000 indoor championships, and the team scored the most points at the BIG TEN Championships, all during Olson's time in West Lafayette, Ind.
Olson was also instrumental in Prentice Stovall's record-setting performance in the 60-meter dash, as Stovall set the Big Ten record in the event in 2002. Then, a year later, the Boilermakers accomplished a first in conference history, taking the top four spots in the 60 meters at the indoor conference championships. Those same four athletes followed that up by sweeping the 100 meters at the outdoor championships.
Before joining the Purdue staff in 1999, Olson was associate head coach for the men's and women's track and field teams at Washington State from 1994 to 1999. She coached jumps, assisted with sprints and hurdles, and worked in recruiting with the Cougars.
From 1992 to 1994, Olson was an assistant coach at Washington, where she coached men's and women's jumps, women's throws and the heptathlon. Throughout her time with the Huskies, Olson coached Pac-10 champions and All-Americans in both the long jump and triple jump.
Before coaching at Washington, Olson was an assistant track and field coach at Central Washington from 1990-92. She coached men's and women's jumps and multi-events and guided several Wildcat athletes to top NAIA finishes.
Olson became USA Track and Field Level I certified in 1998 and Level II certified in 1999. She also completed Level III education in jumps in 2000. Since that time, Olson has worked with USA Track and Field. A member of the USA Track and Field Development Committee, she worked at the 2000 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif., and coached the nation's elite jumpers at the Junior Elite Camp held at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego in the summers of 2000 and 2001.
She then coached Carri Long and Shaun Guice in the high jump at the World University Games in 2001, followed by head coaching stints with the USA U-25 Team in 2002 and the USA Pan Am Jr. Team in 2003, with the U-25 team earning more medals than any other team in American track and field history.
Olson's most recent activity with Team USA occurred in 2004, when she coached Long in the high jump and Francesca Green in the long jump at the 2004 Olympic Trials. Olson has coached Olympic Trial qualifiers in both the men's and women's high jump, as well as the men's triple jump and the women's long jump.
A sprinter, hurdler and high jumper at Washington State from 1985 to 1990, Olson, as Lissa Gray, ranks fifth on the Cougars' all-time high jump list. She competed at both the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships, as well as the USA indoor and outdoor championships.
Olson earned a bachelor of arts in education from Washington State in 1988 and a master's in education/athletic administration in 1990. In addition, she has completed coursework for a Ph.D. in athletic administration at Washington State.
Olson and her husband, Greg, the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are the proud parents of six-year-old twins.