Beef O’ Brady’s proceeds, golf tourney benefit family
By Steve Lee
WESLEY CHAPEL — The family of revered baseball coach Harry Olsen, who suffered a fatal heart attack in October, has benefited from the giving spirit of the local sports community.
A golf tournament in November raised more than $13,000 for Olsen’s widow Sara and their children, 15-year-old son Harry IV and daughters Grace, 13, and Anna, 11.
Next up is a Dec. 16 fund-raiser at Beef O’ Brady’s in Wesley Chapel, with raffles and 75 percent of the proceeds from that evening’s business (5 p.m. till closing) earmarked for the family. Harry O. Wings and Beer Night is billed as a family event for “good food, good people and good memories.”
“It’s just, basically, to give them another check for the holidays; just to help them out,” said Mike Hamilton, a longtime family friend who also coached Little League teams alongside Olsen. “I’m happy we could come up with a nice event just to say Merry Christmas to them.”
Olsen, who passed away at 42, was a longtime baseball coach in leagues at Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel. While coaching Little League teams in Land O’ Lakes, the Wesley Chapel resident worked diligently with parents in that community to start leagues of their own. Olsen was among a dozen adults who founded the Wesley Chapel Athletic Association 10 years ago.
While many people have known the Olsens for a long time, first-year Wiregrass Ranch baseball coach Jeff Swymer did not know Harry for very long before his unexpected passing. Nonetheless, Olsen made a lasting impression on the new coach.
“When I took the (Wiregrass Ranch coaching) job in August, Harry was the first guy to approach me and offer his help,” Swymer recalled.
Swymer initially planned a golf tourney in October as a fund-raiser for the baseball team. Olsen’s passing prompted Swymer to rename the event at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club to the Harry Olsen Memorial Golf Tournament.
“I knew how much he worked with those kids,” Symer said. “It was a no-brainer for me.”
In addition to assisting with the Wiregrass Ranch baseball team, Olsen dedicated time to that school’s softball team in between head coaches. Being there when someone needed help was what he was known, and loved, for.
“He was one of those guys who would give you the shirt of his back,” Hamilton said. “Harry helped so many families that people just want to help out his family now.”
On Dec. 2, Olsen’s widow received a check from the golf tourney while at dinner with Swymer and Land O’ Lakes Little League coach Joe Ganci.
“She didn’t want to accept it,” Swymer recollected. “She felt it was putting out the baseball team, but I told her, ‘No, you have to accept it.’”