WILLIAMSTOWN >> The new Williams College football coach isn't ready to talk wins and losses just yet. But Mark Raymond says he's certain of one thing — that when the Ephs take the field against Colby this fall, he will know what kind of team the Ephs will be.
"You're going to see a very hard-nosed, tough, disciplined football team. That's kind of been staples of our teams," said Raymond.
Raymond, who spent the last six seasons as the head coach of Division III St. Lawrence University, was named head coach at Williams on Wednesday. Raymond replaces Aaron Kelton, who left after six seasons at the Williams helm.
The new Williams coach brings a 31-30 record with him, but his Saints were 23-8 over the past five seasons. Raymond and his staff were named the Liberty League coaching staff of the year last season, and he guided St. Lawrence to the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament in November.
"I'm extremely excited to join Williams College," Raymond said during a mid-afternoon phone interview with The Eagle. "It's obviously a phenomenal opportunity for me to come down there and join a really elite group of educators at an elite institution. I couldn't be happier and I can't wait to get started."
The new coach said he is planning on being on campus in March and will move his family down from Canton, N.Y., after the school year.
"I'm thrilled that we've been able to attract Mark Raymond to Williams," President Adam Falk said in a statement. "All of us are impressed by the sharp upward trajectory of the St. Lawrence football program under his leadership. I'm looking forward to Mark bringing to Williams the same commitment to excellence he showed as head coach at St. Lawrence, both on and off the football field."
Raymond was one of four finalists out of 100 applicants for the football job. He was, in fact, the first of the finalists to appear on campus. One of the football players who was involved in the interview process described Raymond as "the real deal."
The new Williams coach was a three-year letterman in football at the University of Buffalo. He spent some time at Syracuse, where he earned a master's degree, and was the defensive coordinator at Division III Ithaca, where the team went 59-19 in that time.
Before returning to St. Lawrence, where he worked after graduating from Buffalo in 1993, Raymond spent three years working for the U.S. Secret Service. But he said that coaching was his calling, so he returned to the football sideline.
"Being a Division III coach for years, I've looked at [the Williams] job as one of the best jobs in football at any level," he said. "With the combination of the academics and obviously the football tradition and the commitment to really being great at the [school], I thought it was just a great opportunity and one I knew I had to apply for."
Of the four finalists, Raymond was the only one who was a current head coach. The other three finalists were assistant coaches at Division I-FCS schools. Williams athletic director Lisa Melendy said that Raymond checked off all the boxes when it came to what the school was looking for, and his head coaching experience helped.
"It was great to have someone with a proven track record," said the Williams athletic director. "We knew he had been successful. It impacted us, not in and of itself, but the way he was able to talk about how he would lead the program and the attention to detail and the things he had done in the past and be able to highlight concretely things he had done in the past that were successful and how he built his team. I think that was a part of it."
Raymond inherits a team that went 2-6 last year, and was 2-6 in each of the last three years under Kelton.
The new coach has a few jobs ahead of him. When he arrives on campus, he has to connect with the returning Williams players. Then he has to finalize a staff, and Raymond said that could include a member or two from his staff at St. Lawrence. Then he will watch a lot of tape to see what he's got to work with.
"There's never just one thing you can put your finger on. Putting together a couple of good recruiting classes and a great staff, and developing young men into believing in what you're doing and developing a great winning culture," said Raymond. "That's what will really define being a consistent football team. That's what we really aim for."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.