There’s a dark cloud hanging over football program at Castleton State College after the March 1 announcement that coach Rich Alercio had been asked to step down.But there is hope nonetheless for the team’s future as defensive coordinator Marc Klatt becomes head coach and the players band together in an effort to continue the forward progress of the team.
“As a team, we were saddened by the loss of Coach Alercio. We know that we are in good hands with Coach Klatt though, and are fortunate to have him on staff,” co-captain Phil Hall said. “We understand that moments of adversity such as this are only opportunities to become stronger individuals and a stronger team.”
According to Klatt, this past week has been full of ups and downs.
“The meeting on March 1 was filled with a variety of emotion,” Klatt said. “What we recognized is with the announcement there was going to be a process with everyone involved of going through those emotions. So our advice, our guidance to everybody involved with our program, was to allow yourself 48 hours to deal with it and go through it. [We wanted to] parallel it to a loss of something, whether it may be a loved one or something else.”
Klatt said that while he realized the entire football program needed time register the loss of Alercio, he also realizes that he doesn’t have that luxury stepping into his new role.
“I don’t want our players to take this as a callous statement, but I don’t have the luxury to continue to dwell on this,” Klatt said. “The duty and responsibility to move us back forward again and capturing the momentum and all the very good things that have been done here in the first three years of our existence is the key.”
Adam Chicoine, a co-captain of the team, said the 48-hour period was beneficial for him and the team.
“Everyone deals with things differently. Coach Klatt is a deep thinker himself, and he knew the smoke just needed to settle a little,” Chicoine said. “We came back 48 hours later and there was a completely different attitude with everyone. Coach Klatt asked us to be together and love, ‘love your brother,’ we like to say.”
After the 48-hour reflection time, Klatt held a second meeting on March 3 to get his players back on track with the offseason preparations.
Besides addressing a few administrative points during the meeting, Klatt took the opportunity to let the team know a little about himself.
“Serving as the defensive coordinator for three years and not having the relationship with many players, or a different relationship with many players, what I wanted to share with them was who I was a bit and my expectations,” Klatt said.
“And then I wanted to let them know that for our program here, and for them specifically, the title doesn’t mean a thing to me. I don’t dwell on that. What I dwell on are the duties and the responsibilities that go along with leading this program so that every one of our student athletes has the opportunity to achieve the success they want to have,” he said. “I see that as my job.”
According to Chicoine, the second meeting came as a relief for him and the team.
“We were able to come back somewhat refreshed and have a great meeting in which a lot unknown questions were addressed,” he said. “
Athletic Director Deanna Tyson said that for her, Klatt is the right man for the job and that the immediate future of the program looks bright.
“We felt very confident that Marc is the man we would want to hire,” Tyson said. “We knew he’d be great at stepping into the head coaching position. We knew he’d fit right in and be able to helm the program and take it forward.”
Castleton State College President Dave Wolk echoed Tyson’s support of Klatt.
“I have great confidence in coach Klatt, as do the players. He is someone of impeccable character, great integrity, strong work ethic, and he is widely respected, not only by the players, but by all the other coaches too,” Wolk said. “So we have the right man at the helm of our football program. I have every confidence that we will continue this wonderful forward progress that we have been making.”
Alercio gave Klatt a vote of confidence also, but pointed out that things might not go as easily as everybody is hoping.
“I think Marc Klatt will do a great job of coaching this team. I think he will do great with the players and great with the recruiting,” he said before pausing briefly. “I think the problem will come from the community. I think they are bitter over what has happened, and they might be bitter toward the program for a while.”
Chicoine, though, said that he thinks everything will work out fine for the Spartans once the fall season arrives.
“I honestly don’t see [what took place last week] being a problem. We have one of the best college venues in all of Division III sports from the amazing tailgating experience, to a guaranteed packed Spartan Stadium on Saturdays,” he said. “This is a great chance for our team to come together even more than we already were. The thing people need to realize is we still have a lot of young and skillful athletes. We are still very excited for this upcoming year.