(WIVB) – When Zachary Olstad signed to the Buffalo Bills as a rookie fullback in 2018, it was a testament to the strong work ethic he developed growing up on a farm in Harmony, Minnesota – a small town with a population of about 1,000.
Olstad was waived from the team during the 2018 preseason after suffering an injury, but he’s sharing his story for other small-town kids with big dreams with a new book.
“Work Horse: From an Amish Farm to the NFL Gridiron” chronicles Olstad’s journey. He and his family moved to a formerly Amish-owned property to start a farm when he was six – and they spent some time living without running water and electricity.
“Like a lot of kids growing up, we didn’t know that we didn’t have a lot of money because our parents always made it work,” Olstad explained.
He later played football at Division II Winona State and got his degree in K-12 education.
Olstad described his journey to the NFL as “a process, one step after another”.
He was invited as a tryout rookie for Buffalo along with about 30 others in 2018 and attended the Bills’ minicamp, eventually signing for three years with the Bills. At 24, he was the oldest rookie that year.
Olstad said Buffalo was a perfect fit for him.
“Everything about Buffalo was that kind of work ethic I had instilled in me from my family along the way,” he added. “Buffalo embodied that blue-collar work ethic.”
Although his ankle injury sidelined his NFL career, Olstad has started his own fitness company in Nashville, Tenn. to help others reach their goals.
“I knew I wanted to serve people,” Olstad said. “I love helping people, I love coaching, and I’ve found a lot of passion – things are going great.”
He says he still cheers the Bills on every Sunday.
“I can’t speak highly enough about that organization,” Olstad said. “I watch them every week – there are still a few players on the roster that I played with, and I enjoy watching them.”
“War Horse” went on sale last Tuesday.
“Coming from a very small town, making it to the NFL is a big dream, and it’s a big deal when you make it – I wanted to tell the story because of my upbringing and tell kids that you don’t need a ton of resources to make it,” Olstad said. “If you have a vision in mind, there will be people who doubt you and try to steer you off that path – it takes integrity to say ‘no, this is what I’m going for, and one day at a time, I’m going to get a little bit better.”
“Work Horse” can be purchased online here, as well as Target.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and Amazon.com.
Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.