In December 2009, West Point named Russell Payne as the eleventh head coach of Men’s Soccer. “It is a tremendous honor,” said Payne. “West Point is our nation’s top institution and the traditions here run as deep as they come. Army has the ability to attract the highest caliber student-athletes, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to re-establish the Men’s Soccer program’s presence on the national scene and to develop a culture that reflects the prestige and rich tradition represented by all who have called West Point home.” Prior to his appointment, West Point was not on Payne’s radar. He was in his fifth season as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland, his alma mater, when Army contacted him during a national search for a new head coach. Payne’s brother had been an ROTC cadet, but he had very little familiarity with the military. He consulted a former teammate of his from Maryland (who was an Army officer) who told him he should consider it because the values emphasized at the Academy lined up with who he was. The rest, as they say, is history. He visited for an interview and discovered “amazing people and a beautiful campus.” He was excited that Army was committed to reinvesting in the program, and he did indeed think West Point was a good fit. He said, “My wife and I got a great feeling from all the people here and we are looking forward to becoming part of the West Point family.”
In fact, West Point seemed a lot like home. It reminded him very much of his roots in Columbia, Maryland—what he calls the “original planned community.” It was a suburban environment, a highly diverse neighborhood, where everyone had appreciation for community, and education was very important. “This is hard to find,” he says, but he found it at West Point. He especially loves that his family and his players are extremely close. His children come to practice as often as they can, and he says, “My kids have 25 big brothers!” Full story.