On to the next level: From player to coach
By Austin Moody
“Fun, very different from high school, but fun,” said basketball coach Russ Frazier, describing his experience as a college athlete. “[It was] a lot more responsibility, a lot more work.”
Frazier is currently the varsity basketball coach at Northwood, but before his coaching career, he attended the University of South Carolina Akin, a Division II college where he got a full athletic scholarship for basketball.
Frazier is one of five Northwood coaches who played a college sport. Another such coach is Rick Parks, Northwood’s varsity baseball coach, who took on the challenge of playing two sports at the same time.
Parks played football his freshman year and baseball for four years at Guilford College.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I could play both sports and Guilford allowed me to do that,” said Parks.
Despite his initial desire to play both sports, he tore his shoulder at his first baseball practice, and after the lengthy recovery process, decided to focus more on baseball, where he thought he would receive more opportunity and time on the field.
He reinjured his shoulder his junior year, and spent the season observing the team along side the coach.
“I gained a lot of valuable lessons and experience by being able to sit on the bench right beside the coach during those times, looking at exactly how things were viewed in his eyes and how to manage a team,” said Parks.
Joseph Kiertekles, varsity coach of boys’ and girls’ tennis, can attest to the time commitment required by college sports. He used to play tennis at Division I Bradley University in Illinois.
“It’s a lot of fun to travel around with the team, [but] the playing is the best part, the competition is really good,” said Kiertekles. “When you’re in the Midwest, when you travel with the tennis team it’s not like football or basketball where they fly you everywhere; you’re in a van so it’s a lot of driving.”
As Kiertekles worked toward his education degree, he decided to drop tennis because he wasn’t left with enough time to complete his class requirements.
One of Northwood’s assistant football coaches, Brian Harrington, who attended Division I NC A&T University, also attests to the time and effort that is expected out of college athletes. Harrington spent five hours a day with his college football team, and during these times he picked up several insights about the sport.
“Coach Harrington’s experience at the college level helps him coach us on better techniques,” said Dexter Jarmon, a senior on Northwood’s football team. “The competition at the college level is so much higher and the stress on technique is so much greater.”
Not only did Harrington learn a lot from college football, he also enjoyed it.
“I wouldn’t change anything, it was a blast,” said Harrington. “I loved doing it, I loved the camaraderie and I loved the notoriety that comes from being a football player in college.”
Kevin Tanceusz, coach of Northwood’s boys’ 2011 JV soccer team and assistant coach of the girls’ 2011 varsity soccer team, agrees that camaraderie is a great part of playing for a college team. He played varsity soccer as a starting defender at Defiance College, a Division III college in Ohio.
“You’re together from four to six hours a day doing everything together, and it’s a great experience, you just bond with them,” said Tanceusz, referring to his college teammates. “You’re like brothers; you’re absolutely brothers.”
Tanceusz continues to make soccer a large part of his life, both coaching high school and playing for two competitive club teams in his spare time. He picked up a lot of his enthusiasm for the game from playing college soccer and strongly recommends it as an experience to his players.
“If you have the chance, do it,” he said. “It’s the best experience ever, so many good friends and good times. You go through a lot of ups and downs together, but it’s an absolutely great experience.”