Russell Athletic Pays Tribute to Emotional Bond Between High School Football Players and Coaches

Videos show life lessons learned from the game

Headshot of Christine Birkner

High school athletes put their all into their football careers—but for most of these athletes, their senior year marks the last time they'll put on a jersey. Russell Athletic is showing how amateur football can impart valuable life lessons in its latest ads from agency Barkley.

Two new videos, "Dear Seniors" and "Dear Coach" highlight the emotional bond between players and coaches. In the first video, New Palestine, Ind., high school football coach Kyle Ralph explains how his players have learned to deal with adversity and how football builds character. In the second video, one of his players responds, speaking about how Ralph taught the team lessons that would make them better people. "We no longer see a big, scary coach. We see the man, husband and father we want to be," the player said in the ad.

The spots are part of Russell Athletic's "#SettleYourScore" campaign, which launched earlier this year with a mini-documentary series about the raw emotions of small town high school football. Photographer Robert Clark, who took the photos for Buzz Bissinger's book Friday Night Lights that spawned the movie and popular TV series about football and life in a Texas small town, shot the footage for the new ads. Russell will run a month-long social media campaign featuring more real letters from high school coaches to their seniors.

"'Dear Seniors,' captures the important life moments from the perspective of an athlete's most influential mentor, their coach," said Matt Murphy, svp of marketing at Russell Athletic, in a statement. "This is a defining point in these young players' lives and will serve as a foundation for every future team they're a part of, whether it be work, family, community, or country." 



VP of Marketing – Matt Murphy

Director of Marketing – Taylor Vernier

Sports Marketing Manager – Laura McCaslin


Executive Creative Director – Jason Elm

VP / Creative Director – Brad Jungles

VP / Creative Director – Berk Wasserman

VP / Group Strategy Director – Chris Cardetti

VP / Executive Producer – Susan Neuman

Senior Producer – Melany Esfeld

Production Coordinator – Jasmine Henry

Art Director – Matt Slider

Designer – Jen Beck

SVP Group Account Leader – Bryan Herrman

Account Manager – Alex Belot

Project Manager – Tifany Wrzesinski

Content Strategist: Chris Mason

Content Producer: Sammy Greenberg

Associate Media Design Leader – Rachel Stelmach

Supervising Media Design – Jordan Stephens

Production Company – Picture Farm

Original Photography and Video Footage – Robert Clark

Production Company: Picture Farm

Producer(s) – Anna Groth-Shive & Chris Bren

Original Photography and Video Footage – Robert Clark

Editorial & Post Production – Barkley In House

Motion Graphics – Carson Catlin

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.