First Annual Val Olla Scholarship Awarded to Denis Krioutchenkov
Val Olla epitomized FC Family. He led by example, was welcoming, inclusive, kind, competitive, and looked out for each and every member of the FC Family. As a club, we want to forever celebrate Val, his life, and the example he showed all of us.
One way of continuing to celebrate Val Olla is to award a scholarship to one player annually. That player has to demonstrate similar qualities Val illuminated every day. Interested players have to write a letter to Val's parents expressing what FC Family means to them and share an impactful memory of Val (if they were lucky enough to have played with, against, or had a pick-up game with Val) or an encounter with another teammate or FC Family member where they saw Val working through. The essay is sent to FC Wisconsin's directors of coaching and to Tony and Fay Olla to select each year’s recipient.
“We see Val on a daily basis working through players in the FC Family. We step back sometimes as coaches, look at each other, nod, and say 'Val? Yup, for sure!' It is as if Val is literally working through the kindness, inclusiveness, or competitiveness of someone else. It’s no coincidence the very first time we got back to training, there was a rainbow over the field as if Val was saying, 'I still got you, FC Family,'” said co-director Billy Solberg.
For the first annual Val Olla Scholarship, Tony and Fay have selected U17 ECNL player Denis Krioutchenkov as the recipient. Denis will have a full scholarship covering all his training fees in memory of Val. Co-director Ben Shepherd added, “Denis is a former teammate of Val. Denis is a quiet, humble, hardworking, extremely talented, and a competitive kid. As coaches we have seen him be inclusive, kind, and be an example to others. We can see Val working through Denis.”
Denis shared, “Val would always give his best and get the best out of the team. Our bond was truly untouchable. Val was always wanting to lead and win. From warm-up sprints and training games to real games, his perseverance and work ethic never changed. I realize now that is something that cannot be taught. He was a special human being. Thank you for the best and most beautiful friend, Tony and Fay.”
“Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to watch Denis on and off the field. We noticed that although he seems to be timid at times, he’s a ferocious player, very hard-working, and eager to learn. Furthermore, his character off the field is quite genuine and respectable," stated Tony and Fay Olla.
The Ollas realize that Denis has an advantage over other players who have written essays. He played on Val’s team. As the years go by, this advantage will disappear. After reading Denis’ essay, they felt as though they were given a new memory of Val. They found it beautiful to read the thoughts of one of their son's teammates and get a behind the scenes glance at the effect Val had on others. Denis' experience with Val was a perfect example of what FC Family means to the Ollas. "FC Wisconsin is more than a club. It’s more than just soccer,” shared Tony and Fay.