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Westcott plans to emphasize famed coaching strategy to his Memorial football players

If Tom Westcott has the kind of success on the football field as the NFL coach whose philosophy he tries to emulate, then Memorial High School fans will have plenty to cheer about on the gridiron for the foreseeable future.

“I am a firm believer in Bill Belichick’s saying, ‘do your job.’ It’s a reminder that we all need to focus on our specific role within a team and only that,” Westcott told the Leader-Telegram in his first interview with this publication since being named as the new head football coach for Memorial High School late last week.

In pointing to the iconic Super Bowl-winning former coach of the New England Patriots who carried the now-legendary mantra that Westcott tries to instill in his own players, the new Memorial gridiron leader said it’s definitely a motto that has influenced his own coaching philosophy. It’s also a phrase that holds true to what he will emphasize to those who will don an Old Abes jersey.

“We cannot worry about what another player is doing or let our attention drift from the task at hand. We need to be where our feet are, completely dialed in and present in the moment. In doing so we hold ourselves to a higher standard and give 100 percent of what we have,” Westcott said, adding that “The flipside of that is an implicit trust that the person next to us will do their job as well. From this is born a community, a band of brothers, that will hold one another accountable, that will be vocal, that will positively encourage one another, that will fight through pain and hardship toward a larger goal.”

Westcott, who has spent the past three seasons on the Old Abe staff as an assistant coach and special teams coordinator, was named by the school as its new head football coach in a statement released by Memorial Athletic Director Perry Myron on Friday. He previously coached football at Devils Lake High School in North Dakota (2017-2020) and at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis (2009-2011).

Westcott replaces Rob Scott, who announced in mid-April that he was resigning to accept the head football coach position at Superior High School.

Westcott is a graduate of Augsburg College in Minneapolis and Luther Seminary in St. Paul. He has been the Associate Pastor for Youth and Family Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Eau Claire since 2020. Prior to that he was the Pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Devils Lake, North Dakota. A native of Minneapolis, Tom and his wife, Emily, have three children and reside in Eau Claire.

In the initial press statement released by the school Westcott said that he is excited and honored to be named the next head coach of the Old Abes. “My family and I are thrilled to be able to continue building the Memorial football program into one that our community will be extremely proud of.”

The newly minted head coach elaborated on those comments to the Leader-Telegram in discussing just what being named to the position means to both him and his family and also speaking about what he will bring to the table as leader of the Old Abes’ gridiron squad.

“I was ecstatic when Mr. Myren called me to offer me the opportunity to lead the Eau Claire Memorial football team (my wife was on a field trip with our first grader and could barely contain her excitement when I called to tell her the news),” Westcott said about his reaction when he was informed that he got the job. “During my tenure in Devils Lake and here in Eau Claire I doubled down on my belief that all people involved in an organization need to ‘sweep the shed.’ It’s an idea from the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team that everyone needs to do the small things in order to be successful. With this mindset I began to learn more about how a program is led, not just the Xs and Os, but gaining community support, building up a vision for the entire athletic department, helping student-athletes develop their leadership abilities and more.”

Westcott explained that “Through this intentional learning from Jake Wateland in Devils Lake and Rob Scott in Eau Claire, I was able to understand what it takes to lead a football program and I am ready to keep moving the Old Abes forward,” Westcott said.

Westcott said there were several things about the team and the school that made this an attractive position to him.

“We are incredibly lucky to have a strong group of students that are completely committed to this team. They show up for strength and conditioning and leadership council at 5:59 a.m. Monday through Friday, they volunteer their time to make our community a better place, and most importantly, they have a growth mindset — they just want to get better at everything,” the new Memorial head coach said.

He added that “From a school perspective we are fortunate to have a brand new turf field and stands being constructed over the summer. This is all thanks to the referendum that passed recently and it will allow us to catch up to many of our opponents in the BRC and Wisconsin Valley Conference who have similar facility upgrades. We also have a great administrative team and school staff that are supportive of this program.”

The Old Abes will be entering the Westcott Era in a new conference, joining the Wisconsin Valley Conference in 2024.

“We’re looking forward to competing in a storied conference and plan to bring a high energy, physical team to the Valley,” said Westcott in the initial release from Memorial last week.

Just as he hopes to mentor both his players and coaches in his new role, Westcott pointed to a football coach who took him under his wing and taught him what it really means to be a leader.

“I had the privilege of being coached by Adam Kowles prior to him taking over the Hudson program. He was the first coach to show me that a true mentor leader tends to the entire person, not just their athletic potential. As a coach I too have sought to tend to the body, mind and spirit of all student-athletes to help them become the best versions of themselves. To further develop this I received a certification from Brian Cain in mental performance coaching and also a certification from Elite Coaching Mastermind,” Westcott said.

And, speaking of the Raiders, Memorial will open its season Aug. 23 on the road against their former Big Rivers Conference rival, Hudson. In preparation for the 2024 gridiron campaign, the Old Abes will begin practice Aug. 6.