Today's interviewee is Shiloh head coach Tino Ierulli, whose team is 5-0 for the first time in the school's 36-year history. Ierulli came to Shiloh in January from Palm Beach Central in Florida, where his teams were 33-24 over five seasons, 11-2 in 2018. Shiloh, 2-8 last season, is on the brink of its first winning season since 2003.
Tino Ierulli, Shiloh head coach
1. What has been the reaction of the school, the community and the players to the turnaround? "The school spirit has been great. The students, faculty and staff have been behind the boys and have shown tremendous support. Our community and parents have been amazing. All three away games, our crowd has been larger than the home team's, which is an amazing feeling. The boys have remained humble and have been working hard to continue preparing for every game as if it was the first round of the state playoffs."
2. What was your assessment of the talent and potential when you arrived? What did you think was realistic? "When I was looking into Shiloh, I went on their Hudl to evaluate the potential talent. I was pleasantly surprised with the athleticism they had returning. My realistic outlook was that we could make a run for a state championship. With that being said, a lot must weigh into making that run. For one, the players must buy into the philosophy and commit themselves to the team goal. Staying healthy plays a major role as well. Coming from South Florida, it is nothing new competing against great programs and coaches. I knew coming to Georgia was going to be a challenge and one I was excited to take on. Once I dove into working with the boys, I could see their excitement and will to win, which told me we had something special."
3. What has been the most important thing that you and your staff have done to improve the team, and how did you do it? What is the most underrated thing that needs to be done to turn a program around? "Winning over our players' trust. They played for a coach they loved for the last three years, so we knew a new staff coming in was going to take time for them to feel us out and begin to trust and believe in us. Surprisingly, they rose to the challenge and have performed like a championship contender. I think it's very important for not only players being committed to the program and each other, but their coaches must be committed to their players, the program and each other. We must lead by example if we expect our players to follow suit. Our actions both on and off the field towards our young men is what's earned their trust. I believe the most underrated thing is to show your student-athletes that you love and care for them as young men and not just players. They need to know you care about them and must be held accountable."
4. Have you been in Georgia long enough to compare to Florida? What are the differences that you see? "I'm extremely impressed with how Georgia, especially Gwinnett, understands how important athletics are in driving academics. We have great facilities, tremendous administrative support, and our teachers have shown tremendous support thus far. We push academics. We send out bi-weekly progress reports that all players, on all three levels, must have completed by all their teachers and turned in by Thursday or there will be consequences. Our faculty has shown tremendous support, even communicating any concerns or issues with players to us so we may assist in redirecting them. As far as talent, Georgia and Florida both have tremendous talent, and it has been a privilege to coach both."
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