As a young Rod Olson jogged off the junior college football field, he just couldn’t help but notice the beauty sitting on the steps waiting for one of his teammates. His first thought was, “Holy cow,” he said, but he figured in that moment that he might love a chance to get to know her. He knows how blessed he is that he actually got the opportunity.
Marla caught his eye for all the superficial reasons, but later he would witness a woman with the most extraordinary patience, passion, faith and support. Those are just some of the many amazing qualities that defines who Marla, his future wife, would prove to be.
Rod got his big chance at a college football keg party, which was divine intervention for Rod because Marla rarely attended parties.
Rod laughs telling the story of their first date at a Red Lobster, where Marla wasn’t as meek about ordering as he anticipated. When she ordered a seafood feast fit for royalty, it sent him scrambling to the bathroom to open his wallet and count his money.
“She is a petite woman,” he said. “I thought she’d order a small salad or something, and then she got the giant seafood platter. It was like 30 bucks!“
That contrast of appearance versus reality has been revealed in many other ways throughout their journey, from getting married to raising three children — Colt, Connie and Lance — and now doting on their two precious grandsons, Boone and Bruin.
Marla is petite, but willing and ready to go big.
She is faithful, but also strong.
She is well-studied and could have been anything she wanted, but she chose to be a wife and mother.
“Our faith is extremely important to us,” Rod said. “Proverbs 12:4 says, ‘An excellent wife is the crown jewel of her husband: I call her my crown jewel. When I see Marla, I think of the fruits of the spirit — love, joy, peace, patience and kindness — she’s all of those things.”
Intentional is another word Rod likes to use to describe Marla as a mother. She has always kept her eyes locked on the big picture while raising all three of their children. As a coach’s wife, Marla has been a beacon of stability as the Olsons navigated 15 moves and multiple job changes.
It’s incredible for Rod to see the success of his grown children and realize the pivotal role Marla played in their development. “Without her, our children would not be the people they are today,” he says.
With three very busy and talented children, the Olsons were extremely busy in the high school and college years. This meant showing up to every single sporting event and Marla taking on even more, by agreeing to resurrect and run the high school concession stand for all home games. But as usual, Marla did more than just sell candy and popcorn. No, she established a concession stand that came to be known as the best in the state. Marla harnessed her many talents and leveraged them in support of her kids and the community.
“She didn’t just create a concession stand, she created a community. “She was kind of famous for that,” Rod states. “It was literally like a restaurant, and it really built community at the high school. People would not eat dinner at home, so they could come there and eat, incredible.”
Marla has flipped condos and has a great talent for design, but her love and attention has shifted toward Boone and Bruin. After 17 years, she and Rod moved to North Denver from South Denver to be closer to them while also maintaining a line of support to their kids.
Rod retired from coaching and planted roots in Colorado, where they answered a call to Coaches Ministry. Their whole life has carried them to this point where it’s all about their faith, their family, and being able to do the things both Marla and Rod enjoy.
“We’ve grown up together,” Rod proudly shares. “We’ve been together for nearly three and a half decades and she has been like an angel sent from heaven for me. I’m so grateful.”
Rod knows as well as anyone that neither he nor his family would be the same happy and loving unit without Marla’s influence and relentless support.
“I would not be the man I am today without her.” Rod states. “She makes me a better husband, father, now grandfather and man. She is…my Crown Jewel and I will love her forever.”