The other day, QB Velocity was lucky enough to be able to interview Coach Robert Orell. He is the offensive line coach for both Nichols college and the Mass Pirates. He is also now a coach for QB Velocity! We asked him some questions, if you would like to know more about Coach Orell, feel free to take a look at his Bio’s on the Nichols and Mass Pirates websites. Now let’s dive in to this interview with the former Nichols college Bison!
1. What made you play Football?
So Holy Name was a very small school, so everyone played sports. Well, being one of the bigger guys in the grade my 8th grade year my friends pretty much forced me to play. Very happy they did.
2. Were you born and raised in Worcester? What made you go to Holy Name?
Yup, born and raised in Worcester Mass.
I didn’t really have a choice my mom told me I was going no matter if I liked it or not. My brother had just recently graduated as well.
3. You said you thought you’d be a teacher what subject would you have been?
I wanted to be an English teacher coming out of High School, mainly for two reasons. One being that I had a great English teacher in High School, who really cared about all of his students, which I loved. He made an impact as a teacher and a coach in a lot of lives and I felt like that’s something I could do.
The second reason being I always struggled in school. Having learning disabilities made school hard and throughout life I’m not sure every teacher/professor I had really was aware of my struggles or cared enough to work with me through them. I want to be someone that can help those kids and at the time I thought being an English teacher would be a great way.
4. Can you take us through that phone call that you got to coach at Nichols?
For sure. I had just graduated from Nichols, where I played on the team for 4 years and was getting ready to go down to South Carolina to play my first season of arena ball. I was hanging out at my house when I received a call from Coach Sullivan (former Nichols defensive coordinator). He congratulated me on graduation and talked a little about my plans.
Finally, he asked if I’d be interested in GA’ing (Graduate Assistant) for the team.
At the time SUPER conflicted because I was really excited about playing down in SC but how could anyone turn down a Masters? Especially a kid that not everyone expected to get his Undergrad. After probably about an hour thinking about it I called him back and accepted the offer. Will always be thankful for that call.
5. Tell me about your Arena Football career.
I first played for the Myrtle Beach Masters, an arena team in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was awesome to get my first real taste of arena in one of my favorite places. Then when I came back for coaching the New England Bobcats started up.
I tried out for them and was fortunately asked to join the team. That’s when I won my first championship. The next season the team folded during the season but that was a blessing in disguise because that’s when I got the call about the Pirates.
6. Why did Billy Savary ask you to be the Mass Pirates O-Line coach?
Because he’s a great person and coach. He was my head coach when I played for the New England Bobcats the first season and also was coaching for the Mass Pirates. He gave me a call about half way through the Pirates season and asked me if I would be interested in coaching with the Pirates.
After introducing me to the President and CEO of the Pirates Jawad Yatim and Head Coach Payton, I was asked to join the team as the Offensive line coach.
7. What is it like coaching two teams at the same time?
Definitely not easy. Coaching two teams and at the time working another job was really difficult. There were a few days that I didn’t sleep for 48 hours but it is what it is. Not a lot of people are fortunate enough to coach one team, let alone two great teams that I’m proud to be a part of.
It also just helps me in general to become a better coach. I’m working with different types of athletes from different parts of the country. Learning different ways to teach techniques because not everyone learns the same.
8. What advice do you have to High School Athlete’s and to parent’s of these athletes?
To high school athletes: Keep your options open. Don’t get so caught up in the twitter clout that colleges make and then forget about other places. It’s easy to apply now with the common app, so if you’re remotely interested in a school just apply.
In the long run it allows you to make a better decision in the end because now you have options instead of only having one acceptance from a school that is a hype beast.
Also always be working on your craft.
I tell offensive linemen that you can always be working on your stance. Playing video games? Every time you let up a score in the game get in your stance until you score. Watching TikTok? Get in your stance and do one of the dances. You can incorporate your position into everything you do.
To parents: Allow your child to grow during the recruiting process. Don’t do all the work for them. Most importantly be there for them with advice and have fun with them.
9. What are the biggest differences between arena football and full field football?
Well an arena field is 50 yards while an outdoor field is 100. There are some rules that are extremely different but they are more technical. Way more one on one battles, especially in the trenches. Also Linemen can go out for a catch, which is my favorite part.
10. What is the biggest core skill for a lineman to have to be successful?
a. Two different types of core skills
1) Offensive line is a mindset. You have to want it more than anyone on the field and be completely alright with getting no love for when something good happens. We are the first ones to be blamed when things go wrong, the last ones to get recognized when things go well. You have to embrace that. Use it for when you work out/practice, make it drive you to be better. If you can accept that and have it drive you, it will make you better.
2) Biggest core skill in my opinion is all about hand placement. Getting your hands in the right places for the play. If you can get your hands inside the defensive linemen’s pads then you can control everything they do.