Nick Monell is a veteran of startup football programs. When he joined the Champlain Valley Union (CVU) High School team, the Redhawks had attained varsity status two years earlier.
Once his CVU days were over, Monell decided to pursue his education at Castleton State College, where the football team was still in its infancy.
“I kind of wanted to hang around home, not get to far away,” said the 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior defensive end from Shelburne. “Castleton had pretty much all I wanted, close to home, small and, of course, football.”
When Monell joined the Redhawks’ program as a freshman, CVU was a fledgling Division 4 team. By the time he graduated, Champlain Valley was a solid Division 2 challenger ready to move to Division 1 the following season.
Monell’s first year as a Spartan was Castleton’s second season as an NCAA Division 3 team, but competition for playing time was already fierce and Monell’s CVU background was a drawback from the perspective of competition.
“Coming out of CVU and playing at that level, he did some things fairly well,” said CSC head coach Marc Klatt. However, said Klatt, at CSC Monell was going against players from more competitive backgrounds.
“As we tell all our freshmen, they were the class of their (high school) programs but now they were competing against the best of the best,” Klatt said.
“Nick is a hard-working young man. He’s a very strong character individual, but he’s not had the ability to crack the top two … from a depth standpoint,” Klatt said. “Players playing at his position have a better set of skills with a much higher rate of intensity.”
Still, said Klatt, “He buys into everything we do. He might earn a shot. He’s done well in our off-season program. The one thing seems to be intensity. Everything seems to be ramped up faster than he’s used to.”
Monell said, “I totally agree with that. It’s something I thought of myself. There are players with a long history of success. I came from the growing stages of CVU and they were born into football.”
A major in exercise science with a business minor, he’d like to own and operate a gym one day. Monell still plays a valuable role for the Spartans. “He does a good job as a scout individual … with regard to where (opponents) play defensively,” said Klatt. A “scout team” mimics the plays of an upcoming opponent for practice purposes.
At Castleton, Monell started his career on defense, played some tight end and offensive line, and settled back to defensive end this season. Despite his lack of playing time, he enjoys being part of the Spartans’ program.
“I feel good about it. It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I know it’s Division 3, but game day it’s like a Division 1 experience. We work together and come together on game day. It’s like a family.
“It teaches you a lot of life lessons and keeps you going through college,” said Monell.
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