4 Legends Leave Williams After Amassing 154 Years of Coaching Experience

2014 Retirees Party: (l to r): Dick Farley, Bud Fisher, former Athletic Director Bob Peck, Mike Russo & Ed Grees/photo by Howard Garbarsky
2014 Retirees Party: (l to r): Dick Farley, Bud Fisher, former Athletic Director Bob Peck, Mike Russo & Ed Grees/photo by Howard Garbarsky

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Four long-time members of the Williams College Athletic Department who served a combined 154 years were feted on Tuesday evening, May 27th in the College's Faculty Club.

The four retiring members of the Williams Athletic Department included Ed Grees, Mike Russo, Bud Fisher, and Dick Farley. The quartet was honored at a program emceed by Williams Athletic Director Lisa Melendy and sponsored by President Adam Falk.

Retired Williams Athletic Director Bob Peck who was in attendance hired all four of last night's retiring Eph coaches.

Below is a brief recap of some of last evening's highlights.

Ed Grees served as the head Alpine Ski coach for 33 years.

Grees opened his remarks by saying, "The first time I thought I was going to get fired at Williams..." Early in his Williams career Grees was working in the Outing Club Office and coaching and as a joke he wrote a course description for Beginning Bear Hunting, but the joke was on Grees as the course description made it into the College's course catalog and six students signed up for the class.

Grees coached 20 Eph All-Americans competing against Division I scholarship athletes with Division III financial aid supported athletes.

Mike Russo will conclude his Williams coaching career at the conclusion of the 2014 season, which will be his 36th year directing the program. Four times Russo has been named the National Coach of the Year and he is the first NCAA coach on any level to win the national award in consecutive seasons.

In his first three seasons Russo's Eph teams won a total of eight games.

After opening season number four with a loss to RPI he told his wife Angela, "I don't think we're going to be here long." That was only 32 years ago.

Russo recalled in the evening after the season-opening loss to RPI there was a knock on his front door. It was Aytac Apaydin, a junior from Turkey, who assured Russo that the team would soon get a handle on his concepts and tactics and perform better. That 1982 team went on to finish 10-5-1, recording a 1-0 win over Dartmouth. 1982 was the first of 32 consecutive winning seasons under Russo.

Russo told the gathering that at one time he had been hired away from Williams by the New England Revolution of the MLS, but after two nights of walking around Williamstown and thinking about leaving, he decided he could not leave Williams.

Russo has coached 51 All-Americans and four national players of the year and four of players have played for their national team.

Bud Fisher, a native of Rumford, Maine was teaching in the Rumford school system and on the verge of what he considered his dream job – head ski coach at Rumford High School when he received a phone call from Williams Athletic Director Bob Peck asking that he come to Williamstown for an interview.

Fisher was hired as the head Nordic coach, coached freshmen baseball, was the first head coach of Williams women's cross country and has been at Williams for 42 years, well, except for the two days he spent re-considering his decision to accept and then reject the job of head coach of the U.S. National Team.

Fisher noted that he "greatly appreciated the advice of Bob Peck to take advantage of sabbaticals and coaching exchanges to remain current and fresh in coaching," noting what a special place Williams is for "allowing us all to explore and experience new situations."

Fisher will not coach Nordic skiing next year, but he will fill in for Athletic Director Lisa Melendy who will be on sabbatical, before he finally returns to his beloved Maine in the spring of 2015.

Fisher coached nine All-Americans competing against Division I scholarship athletes at NCAA championships with financial aid supported athletes.

Dick Farley arrived in the fall of 1972 to serve as an assistant football and head track & field coach, planning to stay two years he stayed an additional 40.

Farley was an assistant coach in men's and women's track and field, then the head coach of men's and women's track and field. He became an assistant track coach again when he was named the Ephs' head football coach. Two years ago he served as a co-coach of men's and women's track and field with Peter Farwell and then finally as an assistant this past year, capping his 43 years.

Farley spent 32 years coaching Eph football with the first 15 years as an assistant under Bob Odell before being named the head coach in 1987. He never had a losing season and he posted the first perfect football season (8-0-0) in College history in 1989. He then posted four more perfect seasons.

Farley coached 9 First Team All-Americans and was inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Farley stated, "I always told my players it was faith, family, football, but I probably screwed that up and put football ahead of family. If I was asked to trade positions with my wife Suzanne and make the commitment she made, I could not do it. She's a saint."

Known for being blunt and honest in his observations after track practices he would tell his athletes who said they felt good that they were lazy for not extending themselves and feeling worn out. "It's track, you're not supposed to feel good after practice," he said.

Perhaps Farley's most famous phrase is – "if you can't play here you can't play anywhere, there is no Division IV."

On October 11, 2014, the new turf football/lacrosse field at the College's Weston Field Athletic Complex will be named Farley-Lamb, recognizing the contributions of Dick Farley and Renzie Lamb. Lamb is a former assistant coach in football and long-time Eph head men's lacrosse coach.