October 28, 2006

Earning Respect

Oct. 28, 2006

By Patricia Sutton
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Casey Gough's mother always said to him, "It's not how you start, its how you finish." Gough is certainly taking this attitude to heart. His senior year has seen him excel and lead Holy Cross to a 6-2 record, placing them at the top of the Patriot League. Gough believes that Holy Cross is in the right place.

"I think we need to continue to execute," said Gough. "We have shown we can play toe-to-toe with a lot of teams. We need to keep our level of intensity up. We are a disciplined team and we don't get a lot of penalties, which is going pay off down the road. We don't have to do anything spectacular or make amazing plays to win. We just have to play our game."

He credits much of the Crusaders' success to head coach Tom Gilmore and his "never be complacent" attitude. "He is a perfectionist and expects that from everyone on the team and the coaching staff," said Gough. "Because he expects so much of us, he is never satisfied - that has changed the whole program. Even if we have a big win, the next day our lift is harder than the week before. He holds us to such high standards. His attitude has changed the whole attitude of the football program here."

Being an average-sized kid, Gough has worked hard to try and prove himself. He speaks of his spotted playing career in high school, which caused many college teams to overlook him when it came time to being recruited. However, this has only served as motivation for Gough. "One of my motivations has been to prove people wrong," said Gough. "My whole life I've been underestimated as a player. Everyone expected less of me. Georgetown wouldn't take me. I didn't get any looks from big schools, but somehow I came to Holy Cross and it worked out really well." It certainly has worked out well for both Gough and the Crusaders.

When Gough came to Holy Cross, he found the support he needed, especially from defensive coordinator Richard Rodgers. "Coach Rodgers knew how to get into my head and teach me the ways of football and raise my level of play," said Gough. "From a confidence standpoint and mental standpoint on the field, coach Rodgers has helped me to become the player I am today." Gough has definitely proven himself at this level.

As a junior, Gough was named second team All-Patriot League while posting a team-best three interceptions. This season, Gough is once again among the top defensive backs in the Patriot League. He was honored at the beginning of the year with preseason honorable mention All-American honors by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette as a kickoff returner. Gough also received the Johnny Turco Memorial Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Homecoming game with Fordham. Coach Rodgers points to Gough's dedication to himself and the team as one of the reasons behind his accomplishments. "He is a very intense person when it comes to football," said Rodgers. "Casey is an intelligent player and he understands where he fits into the defense. His dedication to himself and his teammates is exemplary. He is willing to put in the extra effort to help the team be successful."

Gough has always been goal-motivated and pushed himself to achieve those goals. Even though he was a three-sport standout in high school, his aspiration was always to play football in college. "Wrestling is great for conditioning, for hand technique and more specifically for tackling," said Gough. "Lots of times you see wrestling correspond with good football players. I also ran track for good speed, but I always knew I wanted to play football in college." Gough's drive to be a successful college football player is also evident in his high level of commitment. Gough has stayed at Holy Cross all three summers during his collegiate career, working diligently on his foot speed and weight training program. He emphasizes that watching film has been beneficial to him personally, helping him to work on the mental aspect of the game.

For his senior campaign, Gough has been honored by being named one of the 2006 captains. However, he has gone above and beyond the normal call of duty for a captain. Gough has become family to many players, in particular, freshman Randy Wright. Hailing from the same high school, Gough pushed for Wright to attend Holy Cross. In the process, Wright was taken under the wing of the Gough family. After Wright lost both his parents, the Goughs became a second family to him.

"I think the biggest influence the Gough family has had on me is being there to support me when I needed it the most," explains Wright. "They have become a family to me, and I say that from the bottom of my heart that his mom is my mom. His dad gives me fatherly advice and this has become very important to me after I lost both my parents. So having the Goughs around has helped ease the transition."

Wright is also quick to credit Gough's importance in his development as a player, "Casey has been a role model to me just by leading by example," said Wright. "I looked up to him when we were playing together in high school. I loved how he played the game and when my time came, I made it my duty to be the Casey Gough of my team. Now when I watch him play, I'm just amazed at the intensity and dedication he brings to the team and the game." Gough believes that Wright has been a good addition to the team. Wright starts on kickoff coverage and has made three tackles, in addition to forcing a key fumble in the Lafayette game. Gough's compassion for his teammate is natural. "It's nice to have him here with me - he has someone to call family," said Gough. "He is so far away from home, but at the same time he knows that he can look to me for anything."

After college, Gough would like to continue to play football. He has been in contact with a coach from freshman year discussing plans to play in a European League, where he could get paid to play football and also have the opportunity to travel. However, Gough says he will mostly miss the camaraderie from this team next year. "We do everything together," said Gough. "Even when were not playing football, we love being together. I know, in the future, it will be hard to find the close knit group that I have found at Holy Cross."

Just as Gough values his teammates and the friendships they have formed, he hopes that when the season is over they will have a great deal of respect for him as well. "I want my teammates to have more respect for me then they did at the beginning of the season, as a player and as a captain," said Gough. "I want people to say during the 2006 season they had good leaders and good players." Judging by his performance on the field and his leadership, Gough has nothing to worry about.

This story originally appeared in the October 28 edition of the Holy Cross Gameday program, for the contest between the Crusaders and Lehigh. To order a copy of the program, click here.