This article originally appeared on metrowny.com on August 4, 2009 and was written by Matthew Ondesko.
It’s like a kid on Christmas morning.
You know the one, the child that wanted the one gift so bad that as soon as he opened it he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.
New Army football coach Rich Ellerson is that kid as he finally got his “dream” job after all these years of coaching.
“It’s a big deal to me,” stated Ellerson during a recent phone interview from West Point. “To me, it’s the most important job in America. It’s West Point. It’s America. This is not a sideshow. I’m honored to be charged with this task. It’s the appex of my coaching career.”
The task he is referring to is changing a culture of a team that hasn’t had a winning season in the last 12 and a team that has lost to Navy six straight years.
“The football team needs to be good,” Ellerson stated. “They need to have a greater sense of history of tradition.”
Ellerson knows all about the West Point and Army football traditions.
He comes from a long line of family members who attended the academy.
His father, Col. (Ret) Geoffrey Ellerson, graduated from the academy in 1935 while his oldest brother, Maj. Gen. (Ret) John, lettered for three years on Army’s football team and served as team captain for head coach Paul Dietzel’s Black Knights in 1962.
His other brother, Col. (Ret) Geoffrey Ellerson Jr., also graduated from West Point in 1963 and his nephew, Geoffrey Ellerson III, is an Army Colonel currently serving in Iraq.
“I grew up with Army football,” stated Ellerson. “I’m used to that part of the culture. West Point works, that’s not a stretch.”
What’s also not a stretch is brining a winning attitude to a team that desperately needs it.
Where ever Ellerson has been he has won, including his last stop at Cal Poly.
In seven years at Cal Poly, Ellerson had seven winning season and went a combined 56-34. He also turned the Mustangs into a FCS power as they were ranked in the top 25 the last four seasons.
He also brings the option back to West Point – something the academy feels they need to have to be able to compete with big schools.
“We are on the path of being a good football team,” he stated. “We have a ton of work to do. But, we will play harder than you do.”
And while winning is the upmost importance at the academy, so is making sure that the young men – and women – become solid leaders on the battlefields and in the community.
“Look to the Army, this is what we represent,” Ellerson stated. “We have an incredible group of men and women.”
And who better to lead the Army football team onto the field of battle then someone who knows the history of West Point inside and out.