Today’s interviewee is first-year Providence Christian coach John Russ, whose team is 3-0 for the first time since its first full varsity season in 2014. Russ is a former Mill Creek and Mercer quarterback who has coached at Mercer, Georgia State, Hebron Christian and Cherokee Bluff. Providence, a private school in Lilburn, has never had a winning season.
1. What attracted you to the Providence job? “I am a Gwinnett County native and saw the potential of this football program when I came up to interview this past March. The facilities at the school are first class, and I could tell that they wanted to build this football program the right way.”
2. What have been the challenges that you’ve faced in getting the program turned around, and what has been your staff’s approach? “There haven’t been many challenges so far this season. When I came in, I could tell the guys were hungry to turn this around, and they have bought into the culture the staff and I have created.
“You know most coaches have their own team culture and slogan that they try to build, and we have done a good job of creating a simple slogan that gets us in the right mindset each week. Our is simple, it is: T.R.U.S.T. The kids have to trust us, we have to trust the kids. and everyone on the staff has to trust each other, and we live by it.
“It stands for:
· Teachable - We all need to be teachable. Every one of us has things that we need to develop.
· Relentless - We want our guys to play with a certain toughness and work ethic each time we touch the field.
· Uncommon - We believe that the people that are uncommon are the ones who take care of the details and never get tired of the mundane.
· Selfless - We all need to be for the team. ‘Whatever helps us be successful’ needs to be our mindset. We need to put our ego to the side each day.
· Thankful - We feel that every day we need to be thankful that God has put us in whatever moment we are in and not rush life or look past things but be thankful that you are here every day and get to play this great sport.”
3. Your running back, Quinton Slaughter, had more than 500 yards rushing in his first two games in wins over St. Francis and Whitefield Academy. What does he bring to the table, and what has made him successful so far? “Quinton had another great game with 100 rushing yards and five total touchdowns [in a 51-13 victory over Riverside Military last week]. His vision and one-cut abilities have been unbelievable this year. The success he has had in the running game comes from the offensive line doing a great job getting movement and then him being consistent in making the first tackler miss.”
4. Who have been some of the most influential coaching mentors you’ve had, and what did you learn from them? “I have had many mentors throughout my career, and I have learned a great deal from them all. Going down the list first was Jerry Rhome, a former NFL coach and player who taught me the value of keeping things simple and focusing on fundamentals. Shannon Jarvis, my high school head coach at Mill Creek, taught me the value of understanding the process and what it takes to win games week to week. Bobby Lamb, my college head coach at Mercer, taught me how to get your players the ball in space and thinking about getting the right player the ball in crucial moments of the game rather than a certain scheme. When I was offensive coordinator under Jeff Saturday at Hebron, he taught me a great deal on o-line play and how to manage a team with a holistic approach. Under Drew Cronic at Mercer, I learned how to build a culture week to week and keep the team accountable and that no one is above the team culture. I could name my influential mentors all day. I’ve been blessed to work alongside so many incredible coaches that invested in me professionally and personally.”
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