(The Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame provided this profile.)
Watertown High School has a tremendous history when it comes to outstanding coaches, including Hall of Famers Dick Berardino, Dick Umile, Eileen Donahue, and Steve Harrington, just to name a few. Kevin Russo is the next coach to join the Hall, and his accomplishments in a 27-year career are lengthy indeed.
In 1999 Kevin undertook the difficult task of starting a brand new program in his adopted hometown of Watertown. There was no club team at Watertown, no JV program to feed off of, so he started with a varsity team in league competition right away. Under Kevin’s tutelage Watertown has had many successful winning seasons and has been able to fill the line up each year in all 14 weights, which is extremely difficult to do. Kevin has coached wrestlers on the State, New England and National level.
He was inducted into the Massachusetts Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Waltham High School Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 1983 and 1984 wrestling teams. He coached at Belmont (1988-91), Lexington (1991-99), and now Watertown, compiling 383 victories. He has been named the Middlesex League Coach of the Year on 4 separate occasions, including 2 with the Red Raiders.
He guided Watertown to its first ever Middlesex League Championship in 2013. He was named the Division 1 Central Sectional Coach of the Year (1994), and his squads have earned the Team Sportsmanship Award on three separate occasions, including Watertown in 2016. He is the only coach to receive this honor more than twice. He has been an MIAA Executive Board member for 15 years, and a Massachusetts wrestling official for 9. Russo has coached 9 teams with 20 or more wins in a season, including WHS in 2017 (21-8).
Beyond the winning and the records, Russo is known throughout the coaching community as a mentor. Along with being successful, his teams always wrestle hard and with class. He pushes his players to get the most out of them, and they always compete with dignity. He is a big believer in paying it forward. In a letter he shared with us, a former student-athlete who wanted to quit wrestling as a senior thanked Russo. Currently a teacher, the former player wrote “I had a student come to me to thank me, and it made me think of all that you did for me. I still remember all that you did to keep me from quitting wrestling. I remember how you basically said "What the hell are you thinking?” Well, that moment has really defined a lot of my life. I played football through college and was a second stringer until senior year when I started. I could have easily walked away like others did, but I remembered our talk and felt that was not an option for me. I worked hard and made it…….I know that other people have had an influence in my life like my mother, father, coaches, and teachers, but I often think of that talk and it has influenced many of my decisions. Once I take something on, quitting is not an option.”
With over 30 years experience in the field of human services and behavior analysis, Kevin has an extensive background working with individuals diagnosed with Autism, Down Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, ADHD, PTSD, and many other profiles. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education, a Master’s Degree in Critical and Creative Thinking, an Advanced Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis, and is a Life Coach through the American Counseling Association. Kevin is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst (LABA).
And now he is a member of the Watertown High Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tickets are now available for the Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet to be held at the St. James Armenian Church Hall on Saturday October 21st. For more info contact Mike Venezia at 617-359-2788, or firstname.lastname@example.org