Russell is an early breakout candidate of 2019
March 28, 2019 by Guest Author in Interview with 0 comments
This interview was conducted by Chandler Streuli.
Alex Russell has made a splash in 2019. The Washingtonian was a top 15 finisher at both the Las Vegas Challenge and Memorial Championship, and followed up those solid showings with a breakout podium finish at the Waco Annual Charity Open. Russell hit the road full-time last season, and that year of tour life looks to have prepared him to make the jump to perennial contender. We got Russell to take some time out to answer a couple questions about his disc golf origin and motivations.
Ultiworld Disc Golf: How did you get your start into disc golf?
Alex Russell: I started when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My dad was a pastor at our local church and a gentleman from the church took us out one day to the local course. I was the youngest of five so there was a lot of us to take out at a given time. Word got out around the church about disc golf and they started up a weekly league there, just something for all of us to do get out and do outside and be active.
While doing this, my dad bought a stack of DX Vipers to give out to people he met along the way that were new to the sport. Fast forward a few years to when I was about 16-years-old,1 I was living in Nevada at the time and driving around the state playing at local courses but in 2014 I moved back home to the Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon area. This was the time when Worlds was happening at Blue Lake. What really solidified my start and my passion for this game was getting to see the 5-hole playoff between Ricky [Wysocki] and Paul [McBeth] that ended on hole 7 on the mound. It was an eye-opening experience and made me want to play even more.
UWDG: Who or what inspires you to continue to play disc golf?
AR: I think the biggest inspiration is my family. My family has constantly pushed me to not give up. I also get stressed out after bad rounds and I will always get text messages from them telling me they believe in me and keeping me positive through the event and through the week. They really are my biggest inspiration and they keep me grounded while on tour.
UWDG: What made you want to take the leap and go pro and play in open?
AR: Back in the days when I began, I had won about 10 advanced events and felt like I was doing pretty good. Being from Portland I was playing and winning a lot locally. In 2015 I played Am nationals and learned more from that event than any other event I had played previously. I eventually went on to play Am Worlds and took eighth. After that, it felt like the natural progression was to take the leap into the professional scene and play open.
UWDG: What does it feel like to be on and play for a company like Innova?
AR: It is pretty wild, to be honest, I grew up throwing Rocs and Bosses. It is a trip to be sponsored by the company that had their name on those discs that I threw so often. I think the biggest pleasure was getting to meet the people in the Innova factory. When I was on the west coast I had the chance to take a tour of the warehouse and I met all the people who work behind the scenes and it was such a cool experience and was so special to me. I plan on meeting the east coast warehouse people when I am on that side of the country later this year. The thing I always think about is that it was a dream in 2014 to be on this team and now I am living my dream.
UWDG: What is your favorite disc and course?
AR: That’s a tough question. I would have to say my favorite disc would be the Boss. It is my go-to sidearm and I lean on it heavily for tournaments. For course I would have to say it would be Milo McIver for my local course, and Iron Hill for on tour. When it comes to Milo it is just so peaceful out there for me. It reminds me of where I began and where disc golf really started for me.
UWDG: What can we expect from you going into the rest of 2019?
AR: I don’t put too many expectations on myself. I honestly think getting a win or two in an A-tier or above would be awesome. I think cashing out at every event is my biggest goal alongside getting above a 1020 rating. I think you can expect me to continue to perform and not be the guy below the line, that’s never fun.
UWDG: What do you think you do to help grow the sport?
AR: Right now I don’t think that I do a lot. I want to grow my social media and try and grow my brand and myself that way. I am working on getting more clinics to the northwest and trying to bring an 18-hole course and club to Vancouver. As well as doing more clinics on the road and trying to bring disc golf to local schools near me.
UWDG: What advice would you give to someone who wants to take their game to the next level?
AR: Just keep chipping away. I never thought I would be where I am at now, but I always stayed positive and did my best. When I was trying to make it into the Open level, I was focusing on making my worst shots better. I minimize my bad shots instead of maximizing my good shots.
UWDG: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you that they may not?
AR: That’s hard, but I would like to say that I am a very quiet person on the course. But I love meeting new people and getting to talk to people. I am trying to grow that part of my social life. So, with that, if you see me out on the course please feel free to come say hi. I would also like to thank my sponsors Innova and Tiger Disc Golf Shop.