BEREA, Ohio – Like a maestro at a orchestra concert, Baldwin Wallace University first-year Head Football Coach Jim Hilvert has a giant smile on his face. It is time for spring football practice. And, like a conductor, it is the time for Hilvert to set the tone for returning his Yellow Jackets back to the top of NCAA Division III football.
A big key for a first-year coach is teaching. Teaching his student-athletes his approach to practice and how to prepare to practice and how to practice. It is an exciting time for the coach, his staff and the student-athletes.
"From the time I arrived on campus in January to spring practice, we worked as a coaching staff to change the attitude and atmosphere," said Hilvert, who came to BW after winning two consecutive Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division II state championships at Cincinnati LaSalle High School. "We developed a motto to live by and created an environment."
"The first few days of spring practice were accomplished by taking things a bit slower so that everyone knew what we were doing and trying to accomplish," said Hilvert. "Our young men have had a great attitude and work-ethic."
Hilvert's student-athletes also are extremely excited and are impressed with the change.
"First, we live by our motto of, Power of One" said current red-shirt junior All-OAC defensive end Andy Schultz (North Royalton). "As a team, together. we can accomplish anything. Since Coach Hilvert arrived on campus, he has been nothing but a positive force."
"He has taught us that we have to win every day," said Schultz, who attended the 2017 NCAA National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana and was on a panel discussion immersion in all divisions of NCAA athletics. "We want to win in the classroom, on campus, in the weight room, at practice and in games."
"We are the Power of One and we are on a mission," said current sophomore quarterback Jake Hudson (East Lake, Fla./ East Lake), who echoed Schultz's comments. "The atmosphere is very upbeat and energized. It also is fast-paced."
"The offense is more focused on the quick game," said Hudson. "Part of that is giving the quarterback the freedom with a lot of run-pass options. I love the new culture."
Hilvert is not new to NCAA Division III football, winning or the Division III national playoffs having coached and led Thomas More (Ky.) College to six conference championships and four Division III playoff appearances prior to taking over at LaSalle.
The Yellow Jacket football student-athletes are hungry to get back to winning titles.
"The atmosphere is competitive and highly intense," said current junior defensive end Anton Richardson (Chicago, Ill./ Gordon Tech). "That is a great thing, because you have to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. This definitely will make us better in crucial situations."
"As a team, we know Coach Hilvert is determined to put us back on top," said current junior All-OAC running back Austin Smith (Broadview Heights/ North Royalton). "He has been a part of championship teams and knows what it takes to win. I strongly believe that coach Hilvert is going to do great things at Baldwin Wallace University."
"We know that we are playing in the best Division III conference in the country," said Hilvert, who had a 67-19 record at Thomas More and a 26-4 slate at LaSalle. "Our goals are to win the OAC title, earn a berth in the Division III Playoffs and win a national championship."
The Yellow Jackets open the 2017 season on Saturday, September 2 when the Yellow Jackets travel to Defiance, Ohio to play Defiance College at 1:30 p.m. The OAC and home schedule commence on Saturday, September 9 when BW hosts cross-town rival John Carroll University at The George Finnie Stadium on Family & Community Day at 2 p.m.