One of the rare four-sport lettermen at Selma High School in the early 1920s, Russell earned sixteen letters and followed that up with ten letters at Fresno State. However, he is best remembered as an outstanding coach and administrator at Edison High School. Russell graduated from Selma in 1923 and played center for the Selma American Legion football team which won the state championship. In 1924, he enrolled at Fresno State and was the football team captain in 1926. Russell organized the Fresno State Varsity 'F' Society and became its first president. When he graduated in 1928, he was hired as the athletic director as well as the coach of the football, basketball, and track teams for the Edison High School Tigers. Despite a small enrollment, Russell coached the Tigers to their first Valley basketball championship in 1936. His track teams also held their own against larger schools. He organized the first city-sponsored junior high track and field meet and boxing and wrestling teams at Edison. Russell retired in 1967 after thirty-nine years as a coach and educator for Fresno City Schools.