GREENCASTLE – An effective leader in life-no matter business or sport-had the ability to get their main character traits across quickly and effectively.
If you ask Rob Doyle, that’s exactly what his coach did before his senior football season at DePauw in 1981, when the new leader of the
“Coach’s number one thing was enthusiasm,” said Doyle of Nick Mourouzis. “His first day when he came on campus-we had the old style football coaches who were very conservative and tight. Coach gets on the blackboard 20 minutes he’s diagramming things, talking about everything he’s going to do, how enthusiastic he was.
“That’s what sold us right there.”
It’s also why Doyle was one of the ones holding a microphone next to the coach while standing at midfield at Blackstock Stadium on October 12th. He’s there along with former teammate Bob Torkelson, leading the ceremony to name the new field at the renovated facility after Mourouzis.
Forty former captains and nearly 100 former Tigers’ players are standing behind, there to see their coach receive perhaps the highest honor bestowed upon a member of the football team in the 126-year history of the program. A few speeches are made before a tarp covering the sign underneath the scoreboard is pulled, revealing “Nick Mourouzis Field” to the cheering former players and fans.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s hard to even conceive that the field is being named in my honor,” said Mourouzis. “I’m very, very humbled by it all. It’s awesome and I’m very humbled about it, that’s all I can say. From the bottom of my heart I just can’t believe it.”
Those who played for the coach do believe it, for one simple reason: His enthusiasm.
“He never came out to practice where he didn’t put it out there at 100 percent. So you learn that when something’s important, you give it 100 percent all the time,” said Torkelson of what made Mourouzis successful. “Taught us to believe in ourselves and really taught us the idea that self-discipline and all the things that you read about. Sounds a little comic book, sounds a little silly sometimes but it’s real.
“He taught us hard work pays off and that leadership is important and if you carry those skills into life, whatever you do, you’re going to be a success.”
Torkelson is an example as he’s the President and CEO of Trinchero Family Estates Fine Wines in California. Doyle is an attorney in Indianapolis and still appreciates the way the coach approached his job from that first season in 1981 till his last as head coach in 2003.
“Enthusiasm, he got the most out of his kids, a very positive coach,” said Doyle. “He let you know if you did something wrong. But, by gosh, if you were doing it right he also let you know and he got his players to play 100 percent for him all the time.”
This wasn’t just a quality that made Mourouzis someone easy to get along with, it also made him the most successful coach in school history. In his 23 years leading the program, Mourouzis accumulated a Tigers record 133 victories and even had a string of five consecutive wins over Wabash for the Monon Bell.
Three times he was named a coach of the year in DePauw’s conference as he won 60 percent of the games he coached.
“It’s really fantastic, and I loved every minute of it,” said Mourouzis of his time as head coach. “The best thing that ever happened in my life, no question. Because I truly loved coaching and to be able to coach at a place like this, it’s just a perfect fit for me. I just love coaching.
“I just loved it. The faculty, the students. It’s easy as far as I was concerned to recruit because that’s the name of the game. I could very easily sell DePauw University. With our academic and athletic facilities.”
That’s why Mourouzis is still a part-time coach with the kickers and punters on Bill Lynch’s current Tigers staff. He wasn’t on the sidelines on the dedication day when the Tigers got their first win of the year over Oberlin. Instead he was with the nearly hundred former players who came back to see his name get put on the field.
Along with hugs and exchange of well wishes came a moment where Mourouzis broke down a huddle as he’d done for 23 previous years-with enough enthusiasm to go around.
“Seeing so many players from all over the country literally. A couple of them from Florida, couple of them from California, Rhode Island. To see them come back is a very emotional time and it’s just truly amazing,” said Mourouzis. ” There are quite a few of them that returned for this occasion and that makes you feel that much better about the whole thing.”
Enthusiastic might have been a better word for this day-as it was for his first in 1981.