One wouldn't normally associate the country of England with American football, but British native Richard Worsell has cultivated his passion for the game, bringing him from the UK to the United States to carve out a niche at the University of La Verne.
The current associate head coach on the Leopard football staff has enjoyed modest success in just two seasons since his arrival. As offensive coordinator, he has brought innovation and creativity to the offense, elevating it to one of the best in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Additionally he has been featured in national publications for his work and knowledge of offensive schemes and systems.
Coach Worsell is very innovative and always thinking one step ahead when he works on his playbook or game plan," said Leopard head coach Chris Krich. "I am very fortunate as a head coach to have him as an offensive coordinator because he takes that side of the ball and makes it his own."
Worsell said he first gained interest for the game at around the age of 10, when a sporting goods store in his hometown was going out of business and had two items left - an American football and a cricket bat. "I opted for the American football. We went to the local park and started to throw the ball and since I could throw best I opted to be the quarterback. Also it was my ball."
The passion for American football never wavered, and he began to follow the World League of American football. Later on my friends come into school and announced they were now playing American football for a team. I joined them and went along to try it out and was instantly hooked, and little did he know that his rooting interest held the first connection with the University of La Verne. American Football in Britain was hugely popular as the London Monarchs - coached by Leopard alumnus Larry Kennan - won the World Bowl that summer. "We watched their games on television and got to meet a few players at some events."
Worsell attended a small school in Wales called Aberystwyth, which boasts of Prince Charles as an alumnus, and continued his passion for football. The Aberystwyth squad had lost in its national championship game a year earlier. "I enjoyed my two years as a player before becoming their offensive coordinator and head coach in my third year," Worsell said. "At times I was the only coach so I balanced the entire team."
Later Worsell would head to the United States to spend time at State College High School in State College, Pennsylvania. There he formed bonds with several individuals to help him develop strategies to take back to England. "The next season at Aberystwyth we improved to 4-4 and scored the most points in school history," he said.
During his last season with Aberystwyth, Worsell was named as a coach on the Great Britain National Team as offensive line coach, serving as the youngest member on the coaching staff.
Worsell eventually landed back in the United States where he landed a coaching job at Lakeland College in Wisconsin, where the team was ranked #8 nationally in scoring offense in 2003 with an average of 40.1 points per game. After his stint at Lakeland, Worsell spent two seasons as Offensive Coordinator at Illinois College. During his first season there, the Blueboy squad set 14 school records and five Midwest Conference Records. It was at Lakeland where he first met up with Krich.
"Coach Worsell and I go back a little ways when we first started working together at Lakeland," said Krich. "Although at the time he was new to college football, the first thing I noticed was his ability to teach. He is a great teacher and has an exceptional attention to detail when it comes to teaching players in the classroom and on the field"
The success helped him land his current position at La Verne, the school where Larry Kennan had come from and where he would re-unite with Krich on the Leopard staff.
Though Worsell is considered a rarity when it comes to Brits involved in American football, he feels the game has grown immensely in England and will spark greater interest in the immediate future. "You definitely see more fans of the game," he said. "The success of the National Football League and their annual regular season game in London has made the game more visible throughout England. The growth has contributed to many more University sponsored football programs across the country."
As for now, Worsell has settled nicely in Southern California and hopes to continue to deliver a potent yet consistent attack from the Leopard offense. "We're excited about the future and we believe we La Verne can be a force on the national scene."
Given the path and remarkable journey which Worsell has covered, the future indeed appears bright.