August 29, 2014

Curtains on three coaching legends

By Christan Shirk

Coaching legends (l. to r.) Dan Gilmore, Rowan (retd.); Tony Ochrimenko, Kean (retd.); and Mike Russo (Williams).

When the Rowan Profs step onto the field tonight to open the 2014 season, they will do so without Dan Gilmore at the helm for the first time since 1975. That's thirty-eight years in which Gilmore had been a fixture on the sidelines in Glassboro, New Jersey. In fact, it's the only coaching job Gilmore has held since his star collegiate career at Plymouth State. But that changes tonight as it's his replacement, Scott Baker, who will stroll the touchline as the Rowan hosts Elizabethtown.

It's a similar story two hours to the north when Kean kicks off their 2014 campaign with a short 12-mile trip for their season opener versus Susquehanna at the Drew Fall Festival. For the first time in thirty-eight years—that sounds familiar—the Cougars will be guided by someone other than Tony Ochrimenko. The Kean alumnus and former team captain never left the Union, New Jersey campus, spending one year as the assistant before taking the reigns in 1976 and only letting go after the close of the 2013 season.

He's not an NJAC coach, his team's opener isn't today or even this weekend, he hasn't spent his entire coaching career at one school, and thirty-eight years doesn't describe his tenure. In fact he hasn't even retired . . . yet. But William's Mike Russo is also a legendary coach and has announced his retirement at the close of the season which, typical for NESCAC schools, only starts next weekend. His collegiate coaching career began with eight years mentoring the Massasoit College men's team he initiated, before making the move to Williamstown, Massachusetts. Russo's 36th and final in charge of the Ephs gets underway with a home conference match against Colby next Saturday.

Over the next few weeks we will review the successful careers of these three Division III coaching legends who between them have four Division III national titles, 15 Final Four appearances, and nearly 1,500 Division III victories.

Comments or feedback for the author?  Email Christan Shirk.

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