I hope everyone is off to a good start for the 2015 season. A new year is always exciting. It’s a chance to see what your incoming players bring to the program, as well as to evaluate how everything you’ve done since the end of the previous year has paid off.
My main thought for this month came to me in a moment of extreme disappointment and, frankly, anger. We opened our 2015 season last week, and the result was far below what we’ve come to expect here. We lost 37-0. It was the first time we’ve been shut out since 2008. I’m not big on excuses, and I won’t offer any here. What I will say is that we were forced to play a number of inexperienced players at key positions, and things really snowballed on us. As much as I love winning, I hate losing far more. A loss like that, when you fail to put your best effort forth, is even tougher to swallow. Honestly, I was very angry. My wife would tell you that it was not a great weekend in the Russell house. However, as my initial anger cooled, I found myself DYING to get back together with our guys. I’m always eager to get back to work after a loss, but this particular week I was remarkably eager to see our players. I began to realize this was because we have a bunch of really good kids. In addition to being really good kids, they are tough, and they work really hard. As you all know, that is half the battle. Obviously, we try to recruit the best players we can. However, at a place like Norwich, you also MUST recruit character; it’s just that type of place. In that mission, we have succeeded. Because our players possess those traits, I know they will rebound and have success this season. It’s a great feeling.
Finally, I’m writing this to you on the anniversary of 9/11. On the day of the terrorist attacks, I was in college, and had practice that day. Many activities on campus were canceled. My coach (a veteran), decided to press on and practice as we normally would. Many of the players (particularly those from New York and New Jersey) were open about their displeasure with this decision, but went out there anyway. My alma mater is located less than ten miles from downtown Boston. Due to concerns about whether or not there would be another attack, there were helicopters and fighter jets in the air throughout practice. Eventually, coach decided to address us. He said a lot of things, but the most important point was that the goal of the attack was to disrupt what America stands for, and that if we chose to cancel practice, etc. we’d be helping the attackers to achieve their goal. If you recall, President Bush made similar statements in the wake of the attacks. My point is neither political, nor overly patriotic. Simply put, take some time to appreciate the fact that we have the freedom to play this wonderful game, and give some thanks for everyone who makes sacrifices for us to have that freedom.
Best of luck this week!