WOOD RIVER JCT. – Chariho High football coach Nick Russo has quit and will step up.
After three years with the Chargers, Russo will be a full-time assistant coach working with running backs at Worcester State, a Division III school in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Russo, 25, who lives in Cranston and works for Sherwin-Williams, said it was a tough decision. Worcester State head coach Adam Peloquin reached out to Russo.
“A mutual friend kind of bonded us,” Russo said. “He was impressed with what I had accomplished and where I had been before. He called me for an interview and I ended up getting the job.
“I am a young coach and wanted the challenge and the opportunity to move up the coaching ladder into the college profession. It was a tough decision.”
Russo had been an intern in the Brown University program before coming to Chariho.
During his three seasons at Chariho, Russo compiled an overall record of 14-13 and 10-7 in Division III. Last fall, the Chargers reached the Division III Super Bowl where they lost to Narragansett.
“I’d like to think we’ve put a solid foundation in place and kind of turned things around,” Russo said. “I have countless memories of the relationships I was able to build with the players. Being in the state championship last year obviously stands out.
“Even going back to the first year we played Central Falls at home and won a playoff game, the first playoffs in eight years [was memorable].”
Russo said being a high school coach is a multi-faceted job.
“You want to win, obviously,” Russo said. “But a high school coach has a more important job to serve the community. You also have to be a role model. You have to instill values and show the effort that we have to put in on a daily basis. It’s about being punctual, d to be present and to be responsible. They all translate.
Russo said he learned a lot during his time at Chariho.
“I think the biggest thing I took away from my three years was that every team is different and every player has a different personality,” he said. “You have to adapt your style to the team.”
What advice would he give to his successor?
“I would probably tell them to enjoy every day,” Russo said. “Coaching is not a right, it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege for you to serve the community and to have this close relationship with the players. You take on a great responsibility. Take it day by day. day and don’t let any moment get too big.”
Russo said he will miss the daily interaction with his players.
“I just want to thank the players and parents I’ve dealt with over the past three years. They’ve been fantastic,” Russo said. “I think we’ve built a great foundation for whoever is taking over – a culture that the school and the team can be proud of. None of this would have been possible without the support of parents and players. They do all the work.”
Chariho sporting director Mike Shiels said he hoped to sign a new coach by the end of April, beginning of May.