Coach Russell’s Ruminations – April

Happy Spring coaches. It has finally arrived – even here in beautiful central Vermont!

This month’s first thought pertains directly to the weather, and what a twisted sense of humor Mother Nature seems to have. We are heading toward our university’s official “deposit deadline”, so we’re coming down the homestretch as far as recruiting events go. This time of year, most of our distance (not local) recruits are the ones on campus for these events. Fortunately, the weather has been cooperating, and temperatures had been far milder – we even had grass showing on most of our campus! Last week was a particularly exciting visit, as we had two high priority prospects due to arrive on campus Thursday. One of these young men was making the cross-country trip from California, and the other was traveling up the coast from Florida. As some sort of cruel joke, Mother Nature decided that Wednesday night, the evening before their arrival here, was a good night to dump four inches of fresh snow on campus. Thanks a lot! This only served as a reminder that, as coaches, we just have to adapt, overcome, and roll with the punches.

The event I outlined above reminded me of a great story I heard once. Coach Jack Cosgrove at the University of Maine discussed just such a circumstance. Many of you may not be familiar with Orono, ME. As a native Mainer, I can tell you that Orono can be very cold, and can feel very isolated. Despite this, Coach Cosgrove consistently attracts serious talent to his campus. As the story goes, he and his staff don’t like to offer a prospect unless that player has been on their campus in the winter. The thinking is that they need to be sure that the player will be able to handle the environment, and the climate. This seems so simple and logical, but I think it can be overlooked. From our perspective here at Norwich, if we bring a young man to campus in June, he’s going to be pretty comfortable. If that recruit is not aware that we have very cold winters, he may very well end up a “one and done”. This helps neither the player, nor the program. It’s critical that your recruits know as much about your campus (including the weather!) as you can possibly tell/show them. Talented freshmen typically turn into very talented seniors, but you’ve got to be able to keep them around!

At this point in the year, like many Division III programs, we are just about halfway through our Spring Practice portion of the year. While it’s great to be able to get out on the field and freshen up our skills, schemes, and fundamentals, I always find myself lamenting the fact that Division III football players are the ONLY collegiate athletes who aren’t allowed to use their full complement of equipment in their non-traditional season. I realize I’m beating a dead horse, but the NCAA frequently talks about equality, and I fail to see how this could be considered fair. The issue is brought up annually at both the AFCA Convention, as well as the NCAA convention, so I hope one day soon we can offer our athletes the same opportunities as their peers in other sports.

I wish you all the very best of luck with the remainder of your school years. The next time I “speak” to it will be May, and we’ll all be taking a moment to catch our breath. I, for one, am looking forward to it!

As always, I welcome any comments, questions, or criticisms. I can be reached at