Campbell’s Costello made the right turn into coaching

Staff photo by TOM KING Campbell head football coach Glen Costello, in his first season running the Cougar program, talks with his players during practice thiis week in preparation for Saturday's Division III championship game.

LITCHFIELD — Glen Costello was feeling like something was missing during his senior year in college.

He had played football at Alvirne High School, but there was no longer football at UMass-Lowell, where he was going to graduate from in a few months.

The Hudson native was driving by Alvirne one day that fall some 13 years ago, and stopped in on a lark.

“I said, I need something in life, so I just stopped in to see Coach Nimbs (then Broncos coach Bobby Nimblett),” Costello said.

Nimblett told him he’d love to have him help out on the staff for a day a week. That turned into three days, then five days. “And all of a sudden it was seven days and I’m working with Coach Nimbs,” Costello said.

And presto! A coach was born, namely the one who will be guiding the Campbell High School football team into Saturday’s Division III championship game vs. Monadnock at the University of New Hampshire.

Costello was officially named to the position last April after Greg Gush had informed the school around the holidays that he wasn’t returning after an unbeaten state championship season due to job commitments.

The 35-year-old Costello, always the analyst, processed the idea of becoming a head high school football coach and decided he wanted the Cougar job.

“I always use the month of December to kind of evaluate what’s in my best interest as a coach,” Costello said. “Coach Gush had told us as a coaching staff fairly early on. I evaluated it as I do every season and I came to the conclusion that it’s in my best interests to pursue it. … It turned out to be a pretty good year.”

It was Costello’s, a 2001 Alvirne grad, first head coaching job other than at the youth level. He played under Howard Sobolov, credits him with his learning a lot of basic principles on life, football and coaching, and “I didn’t know it at the time that I would coach, but I was pretty lucky to play (as a guard and defensive tackle) under Coach Sobolov.”

Costello took the principles of coaching to heart.

“I think it’s developing the relationships with the kids, and the family atmosphere,” he said. “It’s something I think I learned from Coach Sobolov, and Coach Nimbs. The game of football I think teaches some of the best lessons in life, and as society is spiraling out of control, football seems to be one of the best avenues for character education.”

And Costello is all about education, serving as the assistant principal at an alternative school in Billerica, Mass.

He worked under Nimblett in 2005 and left in 2012, then was the head coach of the Manchester Bears Pop Warner team, then spent two years as an assistant at Lawrence (Mass.) High School. “Athletically, it was some of the best kids I’ve been around,” he said.

Then he was lured by an assistant or two at Campbell to join the Cougars staff three years ago and now he’s the one they all look to. It certainly couldn’t have been easy taking over for a popular coach whose final team was an unbeaten state champion.

“Losing Coach Gush was tough,” Cougars senior end-back Justin Rubino said. “It was definitely a hard blow to us when we first found out, because right when we found out we didn’t know who our head coach was going to be.

“But knowing that Coach Costello stepped up to the plate, he’s definitely taken a big role as our head coach. A lot of the players on here have a lot of respect for him, his coaching abilities, how he likes to motivate us. … He’s a loud coach and sometimes being loud brings out his passion when he speaks. A lot of us take that to heart. When he gives his pregame speech we take that personally and it definitely gets us wound up. He’s definitely a very good motivational coach and I have a lot of respect for him.”

“Coach Gush did a great job of letting me coach over the last two years,” Costello said. “So I think my fingerprints were kind of on the program.

“Not to sound arrogant, but defensively the previous two years we were fairly dominant, and I think that was a cultural shift of what Campbell previously was. … The kids bought into what I was saying, and then we had the results.”

And Costello’s theme, while using his own style, has been if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it.

“For me, again, you’re defending state champions, don’t go and rock the boat, continue with what works,” he said. “Coach Gush was an awesome coach.”

One of the players’ moms helped handle a lot of the side distractions and organizational activities away from the field that a coach may have to undertake. With that handled, Costello has been able to focus on the tasks at hand. He is a stickler for preparation – so much so that a couple of weeks ago he rescheduled a home game with Lebanon for an 11 a.m.start so he could get his players used to playing at that time in case they made it to the finals.

And here they are, even though this time the Cougars will be viewed as underdogs.

“The expectation at Campbell is to be there every year,” Costello said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize just how difficult it is.”

But Costello knows perhaps now more than ever that turn into the Alvirne parking lot several years ago was one worth taking.