Today on Wildman’s Corner, we check in with Kevin Farrell, the head coach of Mount St. Mary’s University, located in Emmitsburg, Md.
Question: Kevin, you are a part-time head coach for a Division I golf program. That’s got to be tough. How did it come about?
Answer: I took the job at the beginning to complete my master’s degree and get my MBA. Part of the deal was that while I was coaching, the school would pay for my MBA and the Mount has a really good MBA program. I started coaching two years ago and have really enjoyed it and stuck it out.
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Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a part-time head coach as opposed to a full-time head coach?
A: The biggest challenges are you don’t have that much time to get work done in your office, or have the time to go out and do some recruiting, set up a practice schedule, or be there. Practice typically starts at 3:30 p.m., but I may have a delivery to make with my other job and I may not get to practice some nights until 6. I have to trust the kids to be disciplined to work on their own and get better each day.
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Q: Deliveries? What’s your other job?
A: I’m a sales representative for a company called All-American Supplyhouse, and we specialize in display boards for stow companies.
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Q: You played at the Mount. Are there any big differences you have noticed from being a player and now being a coach?
A: I wish I could see my old head coach and apologize for some of the comments that I may have said to him over the years. Man, there were a bunch of excuses. I don’t think I was as bad as some of my kids, but they do like to make excuses for everything.
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Q: You are at a small Northeast school, and it’s got to be tough to get the program going, right?
A: Well, without a doubt I think all the coaches in the Northeast struggle with weather and money. I’m not dealing with much scholarship money and terrible weather. The other day, it was 38 degrees with pouring rain. It can wear on you after a while.
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Q: I met you earlier in the year at the Seminole Intercollegiate. When you see programs like FSU, Mississippi State and Arkansas, what goes through your mind when you compare what they have to what you have?
A: It’s tough to compete, but like I told my guys the other day, with this new .500 rule some of these bigger schools are allowing us to come in and compete with them. On a day where it’s nice out we don’t stand a chance, but when the weather is awful, we have a chance. Perfect example is in Round 1 of the Navy Spring Invitational. TCU shot a 302 in Round 1 with crappy weather. My guys didn’t shoot 302, but they put up a number that at least showed we were competitive. At the coaches meeting, we went over lift, clean, and place, and the TCU coach had all these questions, because he’s just not used to playing in these type of conditions. That isn’t anything new for us; we just say it’s April and lift, clean and place it is. All in all, we need to start taking advantage of these few opportunities we get and show the big programs that we can play too.
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Q: When I talk to Big 10 coaches, they all say how tough it is during those winter months, but I have to think Northeast schools have it a bit worse? What is your winter like, as well as all the downtime you get with the harsh weather?
A: Well, they all or most at least have an in-door facility and we don’t have that! There’s a small net that our old girls coach put in to the basketball gym, but during our winter months the kids spend a lot of time in the gym. That means our kids can go without hitting a ball for over a month.
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Q: So, you don’t want to hear whining from the Big 10 coaches?
A: No, they don’t know how bad they have it until they come to the Northeast to a place with zero facilities.
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Q: Realistically, what would you like to accomplish, and what do you think you can accomplish at Mount St. Mary’s?
A: I think we can win a Northeast Conference Championship. At Penn we were able to finish fourth, including leading over Maryland after the first round. However, our problem is the excuses. You know when it’s nice out we are pretty decent, but when it starts to get windy or rain then it just gets tough. If these kids can have a better mental game and get mentally tougher, then we can become a good team and win a Northeast Conference Championship. Maybe not this year, but perhaps in one or two years.
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Q: Those are your goals, but with small schools it seems sometimes they don’t have big golf goals. Does the Mount tell you what their goals are, or what they’d like to see from the team?
A: Like any small school, they want me to recruit the next big CEO that will donate money that the golf program will never see. I do have some smart kids that are going to be real successful after they graduate and move on. We had a kid graduate two years ago from North Dakota who opened up his own insurance company with his dad in D.C. That kind of thing is nice publicity for a school that is a top-60 business school in the country. It’s good publicity in getting kids through.