Baseball is more than a game for Jon Olson.
It is about building a tradition.
The Highland captain treats baseball as a mechanism to respect the past while moving toward the future, and he is excited about leading his team in pursuit of a state title. It's about doing it the right way, and readily passes on the Highland tradition to his teammates.
"I've always looked up to the older guys that were good examples," Olson said. "I tried to follow their lead and pass this on to the younger guys."
Olson's voice is clear and commanding, booming with confidence. He made the transition from center field to the mound to help beef up the Rams' pitching staff.
"Playing in the outfield came pretty natural to me," Olson said. "I wanted the challenge of becoming a more complete ballplayer."
Highland coach Mario Cisneros thinks Olson has done a good job developing into his new role as a pitcher. In describing Olson's pitching, he believes that he has control over his three pitches fastball, changeup and curve.
"He's worked hard on all of them," Cisneros said. "Jon's got a real different release because he can hide the ball really well."
More than his ability on the field, Cisneros believes that Olson's biggest contribution is his leadership. Olson cares about the history of baseball at Highland and wants to leave a positive example for others to follow. He connects with the younger players to help pass along these traditions.
"You can never get better as a program by not working with the younger guys," Olson said. "I want every teammate to have the best chance of improving through the year."
Highland's captain is excited about his team's chances this season. The pitching staff should shut down a lot of teams, and he knows that the bats will be wide awake all season. Olson hit better than .400 last season.
"I think we are going to do really good," Olson said. "We have a solid hitting lineup with a lot of power. On the defensive end, we have a lot of experience in the middle of the field, and the outfield is good."
The Rams went 12-13 last season. Cisneros thinks there is a lot of room for improvement. His current roster is packed with a lot of good players, making starting jobs competitive.
"This is an unbelievable group of talented young men," Cisneros said. "I try not to be over-optimistic, but there is a good team in there."
Olson's leadership carries over to his brother, Abe, a freshman catcher. The elder Olson tells him to watch how the older guys do things right and to mimic them. He warns about picking up bad habits and being prepared every time you step on the field.
"As a freshman, you don't want to be chirping," Jon Olson said. "You need to be ready to play. If you get called into the game, you can't be nervous or stiff. You have to know that you're ready to step up."
Olson will serve an LDS mission after graduation then intends on pursing baseball in college.
His favorite players are Mike Trout and Ted Williams.