Tuesday afternoon, Nichols College officially announced Millis/Hopedale's Dale Olmsted as its new head football coach, after eight seasons running the Mohawks' program.
The Bison's athletic department initially reached out to Olmsted three weeks ago, as the Mohawks were preparing for an MIAA Division 6 South first round matchup with Mashpee, and the process went along quickly. Olmsted accepted the job over this past weekend, replacing Kevin Loney at the helm of the Bison's program.
Heading into the Thanksgiving matchup with Medway, Olmsted is 42-47 in eight years as head coach at M-H, which includes playoff berths the last two seasons led by Boston College-bound lineman Jon Baker.
We caught up with Olmsted yesterday afternoon for some further comments on his new gig, the Mohawks' future and what he'll miss most from the high school level of coaching:
On accepting the job: "It was just an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. We preach to the kids about success and opportunities, and here I am looking in the mirror -- 'Hey coach, here you go'. I could've played it safe. I have a great job in Millis, with a program heading in the right direction, from being irrelevant to being mentioned in the playoffs for the foreseeable future. That was the safe play, stay where I'm at and ride off into the sunset. But the opportunity that I was faced with, I could not say no. I took it, and it's been a emotional roller coaster when you have young kids involved in decision-making.
"I'm going to go back today to lift and run. The more they see me, the better off they’ll be able to deal. My staff now is staying [at M-H]. You hate to bring this up during the season, but sometimes you don’t have a choice."
Why the process moved so quickly: "I just think that's the nature of the business over there. Their season ended and they needed stability. Just based on the information I have, when Loney left a lot of the staff left as well. I show up on Monday, there was 3 graduate assistants out of a staff of 10 people, and it's down to two now. It's the nature of the beast."
If he will bring anyone from his current staff to Nichols: "At this point right now, I've been getting emails from all over the country really, from people want the opportunity to coach at the college level. Speaking with my staff there, they're pretty happy where they're at, and they'd like to continue the journey to a state title at Millis. I don't foresee any...One staff member might be interested in coming with me, but right now I'm trying to juggle a new staff together [at Nichols] while working with the Millis staff, trying to run almost two programs at once. The last thing I wanna do is short-change a kid's experience on Turkey Day."
Succession plan at M-H: "I'm not sure. Any time you turn a program around, it's not one person. It's a number of things -- parents, alumni, administration, there's been a lot of people involved in turning this program around, and a lot of those people I mentioned are still there.
"I think the program...I'm not gonna say it's at an all-time high, because we haven't won a state title yet, this was gonna be maybe a down year because we lost so many seniors the previous year. Certainly Jon Baker was the centerpiece of the program, and when he went down we started all sophomores and juniors up front. I started four sophomores and a freshman on varsity and they did a fantastic job this year. The kids did a real good job maturing throughout the course of the year. I'm extremely proud of the way that they were able to win some games, and that’s sign that progress is there, when kids can step up for the seniors that left the previous year and start winning as sophomores."
What he'll miss most: "Dealing with the kids, I'll certainly miss watching these kids grow up. Sort of going down memory lane, this is all going back. I keep gameday programs from every year, I have a picture of Jon Baker as a long-haired, 170-pound eighth-grader. To see how kids develop mentally and physically in the program, I'm really gonna miss that. The sky is the limit for these kids, in high school, and then the next opportunity, whether it's college or the workforce or the military. Wherever they go, seeing them develop from boys to young men will be the thing I miss most about my job."
On the challenges in the recruiting end: "Obviously it will be my first time doing it, it's an unexpected challenge that popped up. What I'll rely on most of all in this recruiting class is the relationships I've built with head coaches in the Commonwealth. I've been coaching high schools in Massachusetts for 21 years, I've been in the Tri-Valley League, the Bay State, the Hockomock; I've been a member of the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association [MHSFCA] and that's allowed me to meet coaches from all around the state. Our program has been very fortunate to win games against South Shore League, too. Again, I think that's another thing that appealed to me about Nichols. To not only build up a program from scratch but my network, the people I've come across, that’s really appealed to them.
"I'll rely heavily on my relationship with head coaches, talking with them, informing them about the opportunities that are at Nichols College, not only on the football field, but obviously as a [high school] head coach, you wanna make sure you recommend colleges to your kids where the head coaches are going to take care of them. You're not just gonna be a number at Nichols -- the ratio is 16-to-1 student-teacher, with 90 percent placement in the workforce, so there's a great opportunity for kids to play at a competitive level and get a great education. I hope the staff I bring in turns these young men into men."