DMS girls’ hire Russell continuing family tradition
By KENNETH COKER, Press Sports
Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 12:02 am
New Dresden Middle School skipper Nathan Russell knows most fans within the rural West Tennessee basketball scene are familiar with his last name.
He wants them to learn his first name as well.
The son of legendary Bradford/Gibson County skipper David Russell, who is now an assistant at UT Martin, took the reins of the Lady Lions’ basketball program recently.
“I want people to know who I am,” said Russell, who graduated from UTM in May but previously served as a paraprofessional head coach at Rutherford (2005-06). “I can only be Coach Russell’s son for so long before I have to be my own person. I would like to play the same kind of style that my dad coaches, but It’s up to me to be successful and make a name for myself.
“And the style of this team and how we play is going to depend a lot on the personnel we have. I expect us to apply some pressure, but it’s too early to tell what style of play will fit us the best.”
Previous Lady Lions’ skipper Robert Browning resigned the post to take over as the girls’ head basketball coach at McKenzie High School.
Last season, the Dresden Middle School girls’ team finished with an 11-7 worksheet under Browning.
“Coach Browning left me a good bunch of girls,” Russell said. “They’ve been very receptive to all of my instruction and are willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
Though a relative newcomer to the coaching ranks, Russell — whose Rutherford squad made it to the semifinals of the TNT Invitational Tournament during his first campaign — already has a TSSAA state championship ring to his credit.
He was awarded that piece of jewelry after serving an assistant — under his father — on the bench at GC during the 2009-10 campaign. That Gibson County team was ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season.
Russell also aided current Lady Pioneer skipper Michael Hart this past season.
However, in both those instances, he served as a paraprofessional assistant — meaning he had no classroom duties.
The Dresden job is Russell’s first teaching assignment.
The new DMS girls’ coach said he would not hesitate in contacting his dad, who won five Class A championships at Bradford during his coaching career along with the double-A title at GC, even if it’s only for advice on how to balance being a coach along with classroom responsibilities.
“I’ll be using him a lot,” said the younger Russell, who will teach seventh- and eighth-grade health and physical education at Dresden Middle School. “We’re at camp this week and I’ve already texted him a couple times.
“It’ll be a great help to have him at my disposal for advice.”
That said, it isn’t like Russell is a stranger to the gym or being present at practice.
“I’ve been around the gym since I was probably one,” he joked. “The girls would be in there practicing and I would be in there with them watching.
“It’s certainly nothing new for me to be around the game.”
Additionally, Russell said hard work will be one of the traits he promises his Lady Lion squad will possess when the season tips off this fall.
“I’ve been telling the girls so far to go as hard as they can,” the new DMS girls’ skipper said. “I want them to outwork everybody. Our opponents can expect pressure.
“We’re going to try to outlast everyone we play and compete in every game.”
Russell will be assisted by Dresden Middle School mainstay Leigh Hart.