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Frank Hauser, head football coach, has been preparing Wesleyan Cardinals for competition Sept. 23. Hauser, who graduated from Wesleyan in 1979, has been coaching at Wesleyan 20 years.

Posted 09.15.06

Football Coach Begins Season with 40 Returnees, 19 Starters

Q: Frank, the football season kicks off Sept. 23. Is it difficult to prepare the team for competition in such a short period?

A: Practice began August 30 which gives us over three weeks to prepare for the opener against Middlebury College That is plenty of time.

Q: The Cardinals had seven consecutive non-losing seasons from 1997 to 2003. What are your goals this year to get Wes back on a winning-streak?

A: Two points of emphasis are improving the running game and limiting turnovers. Accomplishing those things is a good start toward getting us back on the winning track.

Q: You're leading a team that includes 40 lettermen and 19 returning starters. How does this raise your hopes for a winning season this year?

A: We are returning some very good players from last year’s team. I expect improvement from all of our players, based on their hard work in the off-season.

Q: Who are your top returnees?

A: Defensively, we return Quincy Francis GLSP '06 at linebacker, who earned a second-team all-NESCAC honor in 2005 with 61 total tackles, six behind team leader Tim O'Callaghan '08, who also returns. We also have linebacker Ethan Pickett '09; defensive backs Jeff McLaren GLSP 06, Joe Pepe '07, Brian Valerio '07, Steve Secundo '07 and Kwasi Ansu '09; defensive linemen John Harding '09, Brian Smithson '07, Brian Mahr '07 and Tom Addonizio '08.

Q: Tell us about Wesleyan's offense.

A: Wesleyan's offense boasts the total yardage leader in the NESCAC. Our quarterback Zach Librizzi '08 averaged 195 yards a game in 2005 while also leading all starting quarterbacks in rushing yards with 204. He'll be targeting Mark Noonan '08, Matt Barnum GLSP ’06, Blake Curry '07 and Ryan Walsh ’09. In the backfield, Wesleyan has its top two ball-carriers back in quad-captain Phil Banks '07 and Garth Mitchell '08. Banks also had 17 catches out of the backfield. Starting linemen returning are tri-captain Corey Baker '07, Brett Valentine '09 and Dan Glyck ’07. Also returning from injury last season is lineman Steve Cohen ’08.

AJ Taucher ‘08, who averaged 37.2 yards a punt to rank fourth in the NESCAC, and placekicker Chris Helsel '09 round out the returning starters.

McLaren, who along with Librizzi were CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine District I academic All-Americans as well as starting defensive midfielders on Wesleyan's national semi-finalist men's lacrosse team in 2006, handled the bulk of the team's kick returns in 2005, averaging 6.3 yards on punts and 24.4 yard on kickoffs.

Q: You’re a 1979 Wesleyan alumnus, and former linebacker and wrestler for the Cardinals. Since you know all about being a Wesleyan student-athlete, do your players ever ask for your advice on how to manage their academic life and sports?

A: Players often ask advice about academic matters, particularly when they are freshmen and sophomores. Knowing the rigors of the academic programs at Wesleyan, I make certain to give them any help I can. The players know that academics come first at Wesleyan and we would have it no other way.

Q: You're entering your 14th year as head coach with a 57-47 career, and 20th year as a Wesleyan coach. What has kept you here all these years?

A: I came back to Wesleyan in 1986 when Bill MacDermott, my former head coach at Wesleyan, hired me as the defensive coordinator. I was then appointed head football coach at Wesleyan in 1992. The thing that has kept me at Wesleyan for so long is the quality of the student-athletes. Our football players are very serious about both their academic work and their football. They work hard in the classroom and on the field and are a pleasure for me to work with.

Q: Does it surprise you that a Division III school like Wesleyan can boast so many NFL ties?
Former players include Bill Belichick ’75, head coach of the New England Patriots; Eric Mangini, ’91 head coach of the New York Jets; Jeff Wilner ’94, former Green Bay Packer and Denver Bronco; and Don Lowery ‘77, former vice president for player development and community affairs for the New England Patriots.

A: It doesn’t surprise me because Wesleyan prepares its students to do anything they choose to do. We have former players working in medicine, law, business, education and a variety of other fields. It is not surprising that these Wesleyan alumni have risen to the top of their profession in football.

Q: In addition to being the head coach, you are the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Who are the team's assistant coaches?

A: We have John Raba coaching the inside linebackers; Doug Mandigo coaching defensive backs and also coordinating the defense; Hugh Villacis coaching the offensive line; James Wallace ’05 coaching the tight ends; Jophiel Philips coaching wide receivers; Clewi Challenger coaching outside linebackers; Keith Hellstern ’98 coaching running backs; and Shem Johnston-Bloom ’06 coaching the defensive line.

Q: What classes do you teach as an adjunct professor?

A: I teach fitness, strength training and golf.

Q: Are you involved in football activities outside of Wesleyan?

A: We as a football staff work numerous camps in the summer, particularly in the New England area.

Q: As a sports fan, what teams do you root for?

A: I have rooted for all Boston teams since I was a kid in Rhode Island, particularly the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. Now that Eric Mangini, who played for me at Wesleyan, is the head coach of the New York Jets, I am certainly a Jets fan as well.

Q: What are you hobbies?

A: Golf. I love the game. It is the best way I know to participate in a competitive sport throughout your life.
 
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor