The “What it Means to Be a Marist Captain” series sees Marist team captains and coaches speak on the role of a captain and its value to each team. Football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball each will have a separate edition.
Continuity best describes the Marist football program. Head coach Jim Parady has been at the helm for three decades and the rest of the staff consists of many Marist alumni, with numerous staffers spending multiple years in the program. Along with the consistent staff, the team’s captains work to help stabilize the program
“Being a captain is one of the toughest roles that you can possibly have. Until you sit in that role, I don’t think you truly understand it,” said Parady.
This year, the process of selecting individuals to lead over 100 Marist football athletes was finalized differently. In previous years, the football coaching staff assigned the captains; this year, the players chose their own captains via player vote.
Despite being out of his hands, Parady is pleased with who rose to the occasion as captains for the 2023 season.
“As new things have been presented on their plates, they have handled these things very well. I’ve been impressed by their compassion, their toughness and using it at the right times as they’ve built their relationships because they are peers with all of these guys,” said Parady. “Now, they take on a new role that’s got to be team first and relationship second. That’s not easy. To me, being a captain is very, very, very, very challenging. I think these guys so far, they’ve done a really nice job.”
The selected captains include graduate student linebacker Mike Arrington, redshirt junior defensive lineman Dominic Dutton, junior quarterback Brock Bagozzi, and redshirt sophomore tight end Jackson Willette.
“They have really put their minds together to make us a better football team by suggesting things and carrying those things out within the team. The biggest thing with it is the accountability piece. We, as coaches, talk about it all the time, we’re only with them four hours a day. After that, outside of the area, these guys have a lot more influence than any coach will. These guys have raised the standard and so far we’ve been a very cohesive unit,” said Parady.
“Mike is everything that you want in a student-athlete in the program. He excels in the classroom, he will be finishing up his master’s degree here at the end of this semester. He’s been Dean’s List, he’s been nominated for national awards. He carries himself in the way that you want. He’s involved in all community service and then he practices the way that you want your best players to practice. His actions back up his words but he is not a guy that is really, really vocal. He really lets his play and the way he carries himself and the results on and off the field be the example for everybody else on the team”- Parady
Arrington has been a captain of Marist football for the previous two years, making this his third consecutive season as captain. However, the responsibility, recognition and privilege never get old for him.
“It means the world to me. It means a lot to have been somebody that my team recognized as somebody who they want to represent the program, somebody that they believe is a role model and stands for everything that we preach here,” said Arrington.
The standard that Arrington sets for the program is incredibly high. He has earned multiple All-PFL Team honors, and he even led the team in tackles and tackles for loss in 2022. Before his season-ending injury, he was on pace to lead the Red Fox defense again in numerous statistical categories. Throughout his collegiate career, Arrington could always be relied on to make plays on the football field at his linebacker position.
“On the field, just being somebody that the guys can look towards to always have energy, effort and enthusiasm for the game. Being somebody that they can rely on. That he’s going to do his job 110% every play and not take anything off, really leave it all out there,” said Arrington. “Off the field, I really tried to be somebody that just does everything the right way. That they can be a serving leader and show everybody what it means to be a captain, what it takes and doing all the hard things on and off the field. Doing the right things at all times.”
Doing the right things for Arrington includes being a national semi-finalist last year for the Campbell Trophy. The trophy, which is known as the “Academic Heisman,’’ is awarded by the National Football Foundation to the American college football player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance.
Along with his Campbell Trophy nomination, Arrington has been a member of the PFL Academic Honor Roll since his freshman year. He’s been named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, which honors students of color who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field.
Fellow captain Dominic Dutton cited Arrington’s leadership as being instrumental to him from the moment he walked through the door.
“Mike, when I came in here, he was already a captain. Big-time leader. As I progressed from freshman to senior, he consistently stayed as that leader, like a hype man for the team, showing you what to do and what not to do,” said Dutton. “He’s just been a great leader on and off the field too. He really provides guys the insight on how to continue to work as a team, work hard together and give the energy that we need to be a successful team.”
“Dom was a guy whose voice really came to be and really matured in the offseason, starting in January last year. He took on the role as he was getting into his senior year of a guy that really wanted more of a leadership role. He had some good playing time but hadn’t been a guy that got a lot of accolades. He really started to talk a lot about values in doing the right thing within the program, and then he held people accountable for it during the offseason, long before he was elected a captain. He set the tone for our offseason lifting and running program. So, I think that’s where–because we don’t vote for captains until the end of the camp–his voice, and the way he interacted with his teammates and held them accountable really got the respect of his teammates and in the voting of the captainship. He was one of the top vote-getters”- Parady
This is the first year that Dutton is a captain for Marist football. In 2022, Dutton solidified his spot on the team as a defensive end, playing in all 11 games and accumulating the third-most tackles for loss on the team. Through his play and demeanor, he earned a captain role for the 2023 season.
“It means a lot to me. It tells me that the guys really look up to me and how I lead myself out in the real world and how I lead as a group in the weight room or on the field. It shows that they hold me to a higher standard to represent this team,” said Dutton.
Marist excelled in generating takeaways, leading the PFL in fumble recoveries this season. After three defensive captains graduated last year, it was important for Dutton to maintain the identity of the defense that was already built.
“Hard work and trust the guy next to you. We’ve been preaching that since I got here three years ago. We were preaching all spring coming in that we lost a lot of big names last fall like Clay [Fields], [Aaron] Acosta, Teddy [Wright]. those big leaders. So, we had some big shoes to fill,” said Dutton. “I was one of the ones that came in the spring, kind of laid out the line of how we’re going to do things, changed up the culture a little bit. How we’re focused on hard work, trusting each other and working together and just try to get better.”
Outside of football, Dutton has been on the PFL Academic Honor Roll all three years at Marist and prides himself on doing as much community service as possible.
“Back at home, I’m part of my church and we do soup kitchens and, when I was back during the fall, we would go around raking leaves for the elderly and we’d go to nursing homes. I’m also an EMT back home. So I work on that side of the health field. During the school year, I’m an athletic training major, so I don’t have much time to get out into the community as much as I would want to. But, when the school provides an opportunity, like in the spring, I worked with elementary school kids in Poughkeepsie, local schools, helped them just after school with homework and stuff like that, it’s a good opportunity.”
Bagozzi touted Dutton’s ability to speak up as a key attribute of his leadership qualities
“He’s a vocal guy. He does all the right things. This is his senior year, he’s always been doing it right every single year he’s been here,” said Bagozzi. “He’s stepped into the role and he’s really embraced leading the team and using his voice and actions to really show it. On and off the field, he’s definitely deserving of a captain role.”
“I think Brock’s offseason work habits are what really gives him, in the eyes of his teammates, the ability to lead them, because you look at his weight room and his conditioning and there’s nobody that works harder in that area. He’s also such a student of the game, everybody sees him working in that avenue to make himself a better football player week in and week out. In the offseason, especially, is when those things really opened people’s eyes. And you say quarterbacks typically a lot of times do get that because they get a lot of the attention and stuff, but he’s the guy that does not love the spotlight. He’s just a guy that likes to just go to work and play. He loves the game of football too. And the other thing is that he’s just a really good person in that, the way he interacts with people, just makes people feel comfortable right away”- Parady
After seeing some playing time in his freshman year, Bagozzi took over as the starting quarterback in the 2022 season. Now, as a junior, Bagozzi is once again the team’s starter and continues to lead the offense as a captain.
“It’s a tough spot to be in because, especially the quarterback position, you get a lot of hate and a lot of love. But it’s something I’ve always done and I’ve always grown up doing so I think that I’m used to it and I can always be able to handle it just because it’s something I love to do,” Bagozzi said, adding that being a captain “means a lot. I mean, it just shows that people see what you’re doing and it’s just an honorable thing. It’s something you take with a grain of salt.”
While at quarterback as well as an important member of the football team, Bagozzi prides himself on his leadership style.
“I try and lead by example because I think talk’s cheap. So, I think that you show it and then people follow it. I think that’s how it should always be done.”
Bagozzi earned an All-PFL honorable mention and has been on the PFL Academic Honor Roll both as a freshman and a sophomore. These are a few examples of the accolades that have resulted from Bagozzi’s leadership mentality.
“I lead by example by doing all the right things. It’s the little things and how you treat others, how you treat any other student on campus. It’s about treating everyone with respect. It’s doing the right things all the time.”
Jackson Willette indicated admiration for how Bagozzi’s lifestyle choices have helped him to be an example to the team.
“The thing I really like about Brock is his competitiveness and the way he carries himself. He’s a very good example of what doing the right thing gets you. He’s always doing the right thing, always got his head on straight,” said Willette. “He lives a very clean lifestyle. So that’s very good. You always want that as a captain. He literally doesn’t curse and doesn’t really do any bad stuff. He’s just really a pure kid and what you see is what you get. I really respect him. He’s a grinder, hard worker and just a very good competitor.”
“Jackson really did not play a lot for us the previous year. As far as the field performance, he came out of the blue. He was actually, in the offseason program, what we call ‘The King of the Winter.’ He won that award, and so, his actions in the weight room, the way he worked every day, the way he picked people up in the weight room and in our offseason and our spring ball. Now, his voice became more comfortable with talking because his play was good. He felt that his voice could be heard a little bit more and so I think that’s what got the attention of his teammates. He, to me, came from the furthest away to becoming a captain from where he was at the end of that last season. So, what a great story and what a great inspiration for other guys on the team, as they’re looking at ‘what can I possibly accomplish in this program,’ to see a guy like Jackson all the way to captain and all the way starting”- Coach Parady
Willette enjoyed a breakout junior year after appearing in just two games in his first two seasons. Remarkably, he earned both a starting tight end role and was named a captain in the offseason.
“It really means a lot because it shows that your teammates really believe in you and they want you to reflect the program, which in my eyes is really, really important to me. I’m a big serve-before-you-lead type of guy. So really, you’ve got to put in that work before you earn your teammates’ trust and respect. I’m really happy that they gave me the opportunity and they really believed in me from the work I put in since I came here.”
The important philosophy that Willette lives by and was explained by the tight end as to how exactly he implements it while being a captain of the Marist football team.
“(Willing to) be on special teams, you’re cleaning up the locker room, you’re taking equipment out, you’re just one of the guys and lead by example. And it’s really, for me, especially this role of the starting tight end, I’m trying to bring energy and juice and make plays and be the guy that when we’re kind of looking for someone to make that play, I’m the guy,” said Willette.
Off the field, Willette has been on the PFL Academic Roll and has not lost perspective of where he stood a year ago within the program.
“Having great integrity, knowing that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, there’s always eyes on you. Knowing that I really am representing the Marist football program and the guys on the team. So just carrying myself the way I usually do, which is to respect everyone and just do the right thing when no one’s watching.”
Arrington shared his belief that Willette’s open-mindedness to learn a new position is part of what makes him an effective leader.
“Jackson, this kid, he came in a few years ago and we weren’t really sure about him. We were told he was a quarterback. He’s playing tight end this year but he really embraced it. It was something new to him, and he never looked down or put his head down. He just grinded and worked,” said Arrington “I thought that was something that really was honorable about what he’s done. He’s been able to not play a position and then come to college and play that position and dominate and do everything that he needed to do to get on the field and to be recognized by the players as somebody who is doing well at his position and in the leadership role.”
The 2023 football captains led the team to a hot 4-1 start in conference play, but their season has since fallen apart losing the final three conference games to finish their conference record at 4-4. As much as they want to win, even more important to them is how they are perceived outside the realm of football.
“I think they’re good people, and to me, that’s most important in life,” said Parady. “Football is a very big part of our lives, but it is also about the human that you are and the way that you treat people and the way that you carry yourself in life. That is the key for me. You look at all of these guys, what do you see? You see work habits. You see good students. You see guys that are representing the program in a positive light across all aspects of their life.”
Edited by Dan Aulbach and Luke Sassa
Graphics by Ben Monrad; Photos via Marist athletics