The Marshall football program recently welcomed back alumnus Greg Sullivan to become its new head coach.

Sullivan, who graduated in 1979, has a long history in coaching football. He spent five years coaching at Ottawa University in Kansas before moving back to the Northern Virginia area. After spending three years as a head coach for the football team at T.C. Williams High School, Sullivan became an offensive coordinator at McLean High School.

However, Sullivan’s time away from Marshall has not stopped him from following his alma mater’s team.

“Back in Kansas, I would get a Virginia newspaper [and] see how the Statesmen were doing,” Sullivan said.

In fact, according to Sullivan, a large portion of Marshall alumni continue to stay in contact with each other and keep up with the school’s recent changes.

Additionally, he added that many graduates are reconnecting with the school this year in anticipation of its 50th anniversary. With that additional scrutiny comes a drive to do well and impress those who will be watching.

Especially because of the school’s anniversary, “everyone wants to see the Statesmen do well next year,” Sullivan said.

He remains “cautiously optimistic” that the football team can have a winning season, although he does not expect one without “serious dedication and very hard work.”

“For next season, we have two main goals. Number one is to have a winning season. Number two is, as always, to beat Madison,” he said.

In order to accomplish his goals, he hopes to harness the affection and pride that he feels for his alma mater and transfer it to his players.

With a sports department and football coaching staff composed of many coaches who wore the Columbia blue and scarlet when they attended high school, Sullivan believes that he can make it happen.

“It’s much bigger and deeper than these kids here right now realize,” Sullivan said. “I hope that we can incorporate some of that pride into our games.”

A way that Sullivan plans on accomplishing that goal is to have successful past alumni come in and talk to the football team with the hope that his players will “realize that it really matters when they’re on the field.”

The initial reaction of the Marshall team to the hiring of a new coach has been mixed. According to sophomore and varsity player Ben Nyce, the team was “a little uneasy at first.” However, the team was accepting of new leadership, and ready for change.

“[Coach Sullivan] seems like he has a very well-thought-out plan for the future of this football team,” Nyce said.

“He has us heading in the right direction.”