Royal Oak Shrine coach Oscar Olejniczak huddles with his team during a game earlier this season. Olejniczak said the Shrine job felt like a perfect fit from the moment he accepted it.

Royal Oak Shrine coach Oscar Olejniczak huddles with his team during a game earlier this season. Olejniczak said the Shrine job felt like a perfect fit from the moment he accepted it.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Olejniczak navigating through first season as Knights football coach

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published October 15, 2018

 Shrine’s student section cheers on the football team Sept. 21 against Madison Heights Bishop Foley. Coach Oscar Olejniczak said the students will play a key role in establishing a championship culture at the school.

Shrine’s student section cheers on the football team Sept. 21 against Madison Heights Bishop Foley. Coach Oscar Olejniczak said the students will play a key role in establishing a championship culture at the school.

Photo by Donna Agusti

ROYAL OAK — Oscar Olejniczak has experienced highs and lows in his first season as football coach at Royal Oak Shrine.

At press time, the Knights were 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Catholic High School League Intersectional Division 2. Shrine beat previously undefeated Clarkston Everest Collegiate 31-26 Oct. 12 at home.

Olejniczak attended Shrine schools from kindergarten through the eighth grade, and he said part of what drew him back to the job was the chance to be a part of that program again. Olejniczak previously led U of D Jesuit’s football program and led the team to three playoff appearances under his tenure.

“It was just an opportunity when I left my previous job,” he said. “I had no intention of getting back into coaching. I was just going to work and take it easy. I got a phone call saying would I consider looking at the Shrine job. I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Another factor that played a hand in Olejniczak coming back to Shrine was the school’s commitment to making athletics, and more importantly football, an extension of the classroom. Olejniczak said that is very important to him when it comes to dealing with student-athletes.

Olejniczak took over for John Goddard, who spent 50 years with the football program and 26 years as head coach of the varsity team. He admits it has taken some time for the players to get used to the new scheme.

“Oh, we’re still adapting,” Olejniczak said. “They’re two completely different philosophies. Both programs are completely different.”

In the long run, Olejniczak wants Shrine to return to the championship contender it has been in the past. It was just two seasons ago when the Knights finished with a 10-2 record and reached the regional round of the postseason. 

In order to get back to where they once were, the coach is focused on his team working and training throughout the year. Every player on the football team is a dual-sport athlete, so it’s important to still find time to focus on the mental aspect of football. 

Just eight games into his inaugural season, Olejniczak is already seeing positives in his plan. 

“I’m very encouraged,” he said. “I like the fact that we have a group of players that, right now, are committed. They’re working to learn to do things the right way. They’re working to learn that it takes more than showing up to practice to be successful.”

The team has adopted the “trust the process” motto. Olejniczak isn’t just trying to build a football team, he’s trying to build a football program, which extends far beyond the players. Parents, students, faculty and staff are all part of the program and everybody has a job to do.

With one eye on the future, Olejniczak knows he still has work to do in the current season. The Knights need to win their final game against Detroit Old Redford at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 on the road to even be considered for the playoffs. There is one thing the team is focusing on above all else to make sure that happens.

“Details,” Olejniczak said. “Every little thing counts. Every little thing will add up to get a win. If you do everything correctly, it gives up an opportunity to win. Those are the things that I feel we’re getting a little better at each and every week.”