By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor
Nathan Hillerich led the Pickerington North football team this fall to its first outright OCC-Ohio Division championship since 2003. Hillerich has focused on establishing a championship culture since accepting the head coaching position at Pickerington North in 2017.
Hillerich adjusted to the challenges of the pandemic this fall by fostering team culture over online platforms and apps. He recently shared his experience with FNF Coaches.
What was your vision for establishing a winning culture when you first got to a new program?
“That’s tricky because it depends on the program. When I went to the school before this one, they were 0-10 in the previous season. So, we wanted to change everything, blow everything up. Nobody questioned anything because they didn’t win.
“When I came here, they had been winning. We wanted to do our own thing, but we didn’t want to change anything too much. We focused on effort, family and being a competitor. We had a Division 1 quarterback returning and a good scheme. We actually tried to adjust the language of our offense and defense to what they had previously to make the learning curve quicker. It was about making sure the key things were effort, competing and being a family.”
What types of things did you do to foster a family atmosphere?
“We tried to do a lot of stuff outside of football. We focus a lot on seniors. They’re our leaders. We do a senior kayaking trip to get them in different elements. We went paint-balling. You’re hanging out together outside of football. We do cookouts. Doing things outside of football brings you closer. Then you deal with adversity with kids who have never done it before — by working together. The more you can do outside of football, the better.”
Were you able to do any of that stuff this fall?
“No, we talked about how tough that was. We couldn’t even use locker rooms in Ohio.”
What platforms did you use to connect with players?
“HUDL allows us to watch film from our phones or on any device. We used Google Meet and Google for everything we shared across screens during meetings. That’s for the coaches as well. We use Google for questionnaires. Obviously, it’s an amazing piece of technology.”
What other apps do you use for coaching?
“We use Twitter — not necessarily for coaching but more recruiting. It’s a way to access everything and put things out to share. We have a couple of GroupMe uses. If someone doesn’t have an iPhone, that allows us to communicate by text. Position groups have everyone in the same group. We have them set alerts for meetings, and we get a message when the alert is set.”