Men's Basketball Coaching Staff:
39 Years including 36 years at Merced College
Bill Russell came to Merced, California after graduating from South Side High school in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In high school Bill participated in and lettered in football, basketball and track. Upon graduating from high school, one of the factors that would determine where Bill would go to college was distance away from home. "I did not want to be too close to home, so that if things got tough I would not just be able to get up and go home. I wanted it to be a challenge_which would give me time to think about the situation." states Coach Russell. The other factors were where he could get a good education, play basketball and participate in track. Merced College was the farthest away from home. Bill has had no regrets in choosing Merced College, which was a two year college. "Merced College allowed me two years to grow on and off the court. I was so fortunate (blessed) to have had the opportunity to go to a two year college, as it provided a strong base for my final two years a the University of Pacific, states Coach Russell.
Bill came to Merced College in 1973. In his two years as a Blue Devil, he played on the first undefeated Blue Devil Conference team (1973-74), the first Blue Devil team to make the State Finals (unfortunate loss to Menlo in 1973-74 season). He played in one of the most exciting State Tournament Final four gamin in 1973-74, in which the Blue Devils lost to Butte by one point. Bill's accolades at Merced College included honorable mention all-conference (1973-74); First Team All-Conference, J.C. All-American (1974-75) selection. Bill was also named MVP on the Track and Field Team in 1974-75. "My two years at Merced College were great. Even though we could not get that state title for Coach Don Reid, we gave it a great run. However, I did feel vindicated and great pride when Coach Reid did win the two state titles 1977-78 and in 1978-79, thus beating both teams that had eliminated our run in 1973 thru 1975", stated Coach Russell.
Prior to graduating from Merced College, Bill accepted a Full-Basketball Scholarship to attend the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Bill played for Coach Stan Morrison for both years, and was award the Most Courageous in the 1975-76 season; and was given the Mr. Hustle award for the 1976-77 campaign. Bill graduated from the University of the Pacific with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management in 1977. Further, Bill acquired his Masters Degree in Education and an Administrative Credential from the University of San Francisco. "I thought it was great being the small Bill Russell while working towards my Masters Degree at USF", states Coach Russell.
After college Bill returned to Fort Wayne, Indiana in which he became involved with the Old For YMCA basketball programs. A phase of the program required a basketball clinic, in which Bill would ask for the `Big Three' Junior College coaches from California, one of which was Coach Don Reid.
In 1980 Bill returned to Merced College to serve as assistant coach for head coach Don Reid. Bill served as an assistant coach at Merced College for eight years. "Working with Coach Reid was a pure pleasure, I had an opportunity to learn so much under his tenure." says Coach Russell. In 1988 Bill Russell was appointed as Merced College Men's Basketball Coach. Doing so he has become only the third Head Coach in Blue Devil basketball history (Charles `Chuck' Girardi took the reins when Coach Reid took a leave of absence in 1984-85).
Since becoming the Head Coach at Merced College, Bill's teams have won tournament championships and conference titles, and Bill has been twice named coach of the Year (1988-89 and 1990-91). Coach Russell states that there have been many high moments and a few low moments as well. "Coaching has many challenges every single day, it is just like breathing - each breath can be a high or low, you want to hold on and not choke in between, but I do love it", says Coach Russell.
In the Merced area Coach Russell runs a basketball camp and a basketball class each summer. It is a job that he truly enjoys doing. "I believe that playing basketball is one to the greatest things in the world, it does not require much, just a ball and hoop. However, to what degree one wants to get good depends on the effort put forth in putting the ball in the hoop" states Coach Russell.
Bill and his wife Cynthia reside in Merced. They have one adult daughter, Danielle, who resides in San Diego, California.
Reggie like Coach Claunch is a former Merced College basketball player. Coach Burch hails from Wilson, North Carolina where he attended Fike High School. Reggie had two very solid years while attending Merced College as a basketball player. He was a leading assist man on the team and was selected to an all-tourney team. Reggie was well known for his intensity in play at both ends of the Court. Reggie will assist in many phases of the team practices and help in the preparation of games. Coach Burch‘s emphasis will be to bring some intensity to the team where effort is displayed at both ends of the court. Coach Burch works and resides in Merced.