Paris Hilliard, known to his athletes as Paris, is the head coach for Wittenberg men and women’s track and field programs, he hails from Lorain, Ohio which is 30 minutes west of Cleveland. As of February 1, Vice President and Athletic Director Gary Williams named him the head coach of cross country program as well.
Paris has been part of Wittenberg athletics’ staff since 2011, when he became assistant coach of the track and field program. In 2015 he was promoted to head coach.
Did you know that track was the last sport he participated while in high school? He was a football and basketball player before he became a track star. His high school track coach persuaded him to run, but he waited until his junior year to give it a shot and he found success in that sport.
Paris attended Heidelberg University and graduated with a double major in business and sports management. While obtaining his bachelor’s he was a part of the football and track team.
As a runner, he participated in the All-Ohio track and field meet. All-Ohio is a meet which hosts a mixture of schools from all divisions. He was a champion in the 200 meters dash and 4×100 relay at that meet. The 4×100 relay is his favorite event to race in. He was a part of the relay team that qualified for nationals in 2007 and 2010. He enjoys the great thrill of racing with others, including his roommate they were the fastest guys on the team, but they were the first and second leg. One event he wished he raced more would be the 400 meters, but he did not want to be classified as a 400-meter runner.
His college coach, Keith Roberts, convinced Paris that he should get into coaching after graduating. He became a graduate assistant, also known as GA, because it was a great way to get his master’s paid for. Paris obtained his master’s in education but on a non-teaching track. He chose the non-teaching track because he wanted to learn how to teach people without acquiring a teaching license.
His advice for people who want to get into coaching or the sports industry is becoming a GA because it gets your coaching career started and gives you an opportunity to start professional networking.
He describes coaching at his alma mater as “great because I got to carry the legacy, being on the other side.”
“I was able to challenge my former teammates and seeing them improve and achieve their goals. The hardest part about being a GA was being so close in age,” Paris said.
As a former track and field athlete Paris has high expectations for himself. This is expressed in his coaching style for his teams. Paris describes himself as laid back and direct, he is really big on seeing growth athletically and in life.
Paris said it was “an easy transition when I became the head coach of the track and field program.”
“With the new transition to becoming the head cross country, the key is it to keep it simple and hope that the teams buy into the game plan,” Paris said.
Despite coaching two sports Paris said that “the technical aspect of coaching track and cross country are a little different. However, its still leading a group of young men and women to achieve one common goal.”
Paris is more than just a coach on campus, he is one of the lead facilitators of M2S2; M2S2 is an acronym for Minority Men Striving to Success. M2S2 is a program for minority male students who attend Wittenberg. They discuss topics of masculinity, manhood, higher education, families, relationships, financial literacy and a variety of more topics that relate to being a minority male in today’s society.
Paris also has his own mentors, they are his two college coaches, his grandfather and an uncle because they were the biggest inspirations/role models. They taught him about responsibility, what it takes to be a man and how to positively support others.
The biggest thing that Paris did not know about coaching was the huge time commitment, effort and behind the scene desk work.
He decided to coach at the Division III level because all his life he has been around the small liberal arts environment. He wants to see his athletes developed to become pillars of the community. Seeing this is the best part about becoming a coach.
Once The Steemer is open he hopes that Wittenberg will be able to host three indoor track meets. He describes it as “great having the Wittenberg and Springfield community coming together to show support without traveling far.”
One of his favorite track meets to coach at is the NCAC outdoor conference championship. Another favorite track meet is when the team travels to Atlanta, Georgia: it is a great way to open the outdoor season, but it so hard to leave from. His least favorite track meet to coach is at Cedarville University because of it the cold weather.
His motto for the team is control what you control effort, energy, and attitude we can control every day.