Adam Spurrell's original goal was to become a meteorologist. When he started at St. Cloud State in the late 1990s, he thought he wanted to forecast weather, perhaps on television.

But when that path proved uninspiring, he discovered his true passion: working with kids. He soon switched to education. When he got a teaching job, he augmented his time spent instructing by becoming an assistant football coach.

A career was born. And now, after 21 years as a teacher and a coach — 19 of them at Maple Grove — Spurrell has been made the third head coach in Maple Grove's 28-year football history. He takes over for Matt Lombardi, who resigned in early March.

Spurrell didn't play football in college; he'd played high school football back home in Amery, Wis., but went no further with it. Yet he knew this was what he wanted to do.

He began his coaching journey in 2003 under former Maple Grove coach Craig Hanson and spent two years at Wayzata under Brad Anderson in 2012 and 2013 before returning to Maple Grove.

"I always wanted this job," said Spurrell, who said he threw his hat in the ring for the Maple Grove job before Lombardi was hired in 2012. "I didn't know how much I didn't know then, but I knew this was the place I wanted to be."

Spurrell, a longtime math teacher at Maple Grove Middle School until migrating to the high school a year ago, has worn a number of different coaching hats at the school. He was the Crimson's defensive coordinator last year and plans to remain intricately involved with the defense in the future. Lombardi, whom he considers his mentor, was known as a defensive mastermind.

The Maple Grove job attracted interest from established coaches around the metro, a fact that doesn't surprise Spurrell.

"This is a top-five, -six program in the state. Matt did things here right," he said. "We've got 300 kids signed up for spring football across all different levels. And everybody on the varsity shows up for the daily 5:50 a.m. workouts."

Spurrell calls himself "a players coach." That was evidenced by the explosion of support when school administrators announced his hiring in front of the players in the school gym.

They roared their approval and rushed en masse to the floor to embrace their newly appointed leader, whose wife had joined him for the announcement. She had to escape hastily to avoid the onrushing players.

"Thankfully, my wife has quick feet," Spurrell said.

Spurrell has had a hard time containing his excitement. Most of the coaches who worked under Lombardi are expected to return; a couple of jobs remain to be filled.

Maple Grove has 17 starters returning from the 2023 team that went 7-3 and lost to eventual Class 6A runner-up Edina in the second round of the playoffs. "And we have two classes of kids who weren't starters by name but have the chance to be [as good as] our classes in 2021 and 2022 that won the state championship."

Spurrell said the past week has been a whirlwind and he's still riding the high of his hiring.

"It's still mind-boggling at this point," he said. "I'm excited and I'm thrilled and I can't say it's completely set in yet."