Meet OPRF’s new athletic director

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Nicole Ebsen, OPRF’s new Athletic Director

OPRF has hired Nicole Ebsen to be the next athletic director, replacing John Stelzer, who is retiring. Ebsen, who will start on July 1, has experience in multiple positions, including the athletic and activities director position she now holds at Morton School District 201.

Associate Superintendent Greg Johnson was in charge of the “pretty involved” hiring process. About what made Ebsen stand out from the other candidates, Johnson said, “She is currently running a large athletic program over there at Morton.” Morton School District 201 has over twice as many students as OPRF and many students are of a different socio-economic background. In 2020, about 86% of students were low income compared to about 18% for OPRF. According to Morton’s Website, “Morton teams have achieved more than their share of league and tournament championships. Individuals have also set numerous records and won All-State and All-Conference honors.”

Johnson also added that Ebsen has a “big, organizational skill set” and “was really positive about the camaraderie and the school spirit that she wanted to build through the athletic program.”

“The people that speak about her from Morton have nothing but glowing things to say about her leadership and her ability to bring people together,” said Tim Hasso, OPRF
boys track and field head coach. Hasso knows Ebsen from “from word of mouth and her strong reputation within the West Suburban Conference,” and describes her as “incredibly hardworking”, “very optimistic”, “unbelievably loyal” and “a tremendous leader”.

Prior to her position as Morton’s athletics and activities director, Ebsen has been a PE teacher and coached volleyball, badminton, and softball at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn. She has also served as a dean.

Ebsen describes her leadership style as “very hands on,” and says she wants people to know “I’m supportive, I’m there, I’m visible, (and) I’m approachable.”

Ebsen said she desires “to see our kids succeed through athletics and extracurriculars,” also saying, “The kids are what makes it for me. I was an athlete since I was four years old, so I have a great appreciation for what athletics can do to enhance the student experience.”

“Coming to OPRF will allow me to participate in a different extracurricular environment than I am used to and I am really looking forward to that.”

The pandemic and experiences lost due to it will create challenges to be overcome next school year and beyond. “I think just coming out of the COVID environment is going to be a challenge in and of itself,” Ebsen said. We are going to have the ability to harness the excitement (of every stakeholder) that is going to be brought with the new season (after deviating away from normal athletics) and if we do it right, it will be something pretty special.”

“The success of athletics and the student experience is not something that can just happen by simply participating. There are many people who contribute to the overall positive athletic experience.”

Anticipated challenges include “figuring out what we can and cannot do” in the fall and getting underclassmen who did not get a typical experience as freshmen on board. “The ability to play in front of a crowd; the ability to forge personal relationships with teammates through a shared experience and the experience to learn from upperclassmen within the program have all been hindered because of COVID and the restrictions placed on our athletes for their personal safety,” Ebsen stated.

“I think it’s going to be awesome,” Ebsen said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

The Booster Club at OPRF is hosting a “virtual meet and greet” with Ebsen on Wednesday, April 14 at 7 pm, which you can pre-register for at https://oprfhs-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dr8OZqZlSHyalLBy0MGCdA

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