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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Middlebury football welcomes new leadership

Middlebury’s football team is entering a new season of leadership — one that strives to work in cooperation to ensure a successful season. 

New head football coach, Doug Mandigo ’96, has been a part of the football coaching team since 2011 as the defensive coordinator and linebacker’s coach, and stepped into his new position in December of 2022. He weighed in on what coaching means to him, and why he decided to come back to his alma mater. 

“Coaching is teaching, it's building relationships. It's motivating. It's mentoring. You build real lasting relationships with players and colleagues. That's why I do it,” Mandigo said in an interview with The Campus. “I like the competition, but I like the relationships, and the people I coach, and the people I work with. That's the best part of it.”

Middlebury’s football team also named a new offensive coordinator, Jason Thomas. Thomas previously coached for Middlebury during the 2006–07 season, and returned in 2021 as an outside linebackers coach. To him, coaching is about giving back to the sport.

“I see it as a tremendous opportunity to be a mentor to young people, to help them polish off who they are before we send them out into the real world,” he said. “There's lots of lessons through sports, but football, in particular, that you can teach, as long as it's intentional, and it's my way to pay service to the game and help out some young people.”

The two hope to make the leadership transition as seamless as possible, while still keeping the precedents set by previous head coach, Bob Ritter ’84.

“My goal for myself in this position is to really streamline and continue to do what we've been doing. I think being put into this position offers a lot of continuity within the staff, and I think staff continuity is important for teams,” Thomas said. “We have a pretty veteran group coming back, and my goal is to make sure that it is as seamless a transition for them as possible.”

Though the football team is currently in its off-season, both coaches and players are excited for what’s in store for the fall.

“We have a really good core group of guys coming back to our program that did well last year. And then another great group of kids that have come in that really want to be here. I really love the program and the campus and the school,” Mandigo said. “As usual, they will do a fantastic job of welcoming the new players to the program next year. We have a history of that — of a culture of welcoming our new guys with open arms and into our brotherhood and family.”

Wide receiver Donovan Wood ’24 is also hopeful for the upcoming season and the future of the team.

“For me, being on the team means more than just an athletic obligation, it feels like a family first and foremost with a group of guys that I’d be happy to call my brothers,” Wood said. “I share the sentiment with the majority of our team that we are excited for both Coach Mandigo’s new position as head coach and the official acquisition of Coach Thomas.” He is excited to both return to the team next fall with familiar friends and welcome a group of new first-year players. 

Going into the fall football season, teamwork and dedication are a must. As such, both the players and coaches look forward to working together to ensure the ultimate success of the team, not just for the upcoming fall season, but in the years to come.