Family steals the show at UMass training camp

  • Walt Bell, who has been hired as the new UMass football head coach, speaks during a press conference, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 at the Martin Jacobson Football Performance Center at UMass.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/28/2019 7:07:41 PM

AMHERST — Walt Bell is in the middle of answering a question when a three-year-old girl runs up to the UMass football coach.

Emma Paschall had walked up to “Uncle Walt” and asked him to pick her up, which he did dutifully while still answering the question at hand. After a few moments, he puts her down the ground to continue the interview while Emma chases after her father, wide receivers coach Luke Paschall.

That is one of the many scenes that reporters witnessed this summer after UMass football practices. Kids joining interviews alongside their father was considered pretty routine and their naivete was rewarded by giggles from the press corps.

During practice, Emma would often play with Bear Shadeed, the son of strength coach Matt Shadeed, oblivious to what their fathers were doing on the field. All that mattered once the team broke the final team huddle was rushing out onto the field and finding their fathers.

Both Paschall and Shadeed are among the loudest coaches on the field during a practice, oftentimes yelling or screaming both positive and negative reactions. Yet when their kids rush the field after practice, the smile on their faces is a mile wide.

It’s a unique scene in college football especially with the younger staff Bell has assembled around him. Yet Bell has made family the foundation of the UMass football program, both on and off the field. It’s a lesson he learned along his coaching journey from Larry Fedora at North Carolina to Blake Anderson at Arkansas State .

And in a business where family time is limited certain times of the year, the added time together is a bonus for both the coaches and players.

“It’s important our players see us with our wives, they see the best example we can possibly give them of what a healthy relationship is like,” Bell said last week. “It’s great for our wide receivers to see our wide receivers coach with a smile on his face and a big hug, and it’s also good that when Emma does something wrong, get scolded. They start to realize it’s not a nobody likes me type of thing, it’s a you’re our kids and we love you and we’re invested in you type of thing.”


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