Amy Jo Kinyon
For the past two years, the Potterville High School Football team has opened the season with a new coach at the helm. This year, Phillip Heim will step on to the field and into the role. A nuclear pharmacist by trade, he has spent the past decade in various coaching positions with schools in the Grand Rapids area and is thrilled to take on the leadership role of head coach at Potterville. Heim has a passion for the game and the influence it can have on a young man’s life.
“It’s really the last place, besides the military, where you can raise boys into men,” said Heim after finishing up practice in 90-degree temperatures.
Being part of a team, pushing yourself to succeed, and building a strong work ethic are just few of the benefits Heim believes the game can teach. Quick to focus on the students, Heim said the true value of a team lies in how well they play together. Every position comes with its own set of requirements and Heim explained that often the “dirty jobs” teach the greatest lessons and contribute the most to the team.
“They need to learn sometimes, to do the dirty jobs. There are great lessons to be learned there,” said Heim. “The most important guys on my teams are always those in the trenches, in the pit as we jokingly call it.”
Heim also recognizes that his position is about more than the students in uniform on the field.
“We want the student body to be part of Potterville football again,” explained Heim. “We want to get kids excited about coming out on Friday nights.”
Building a program the community can be proud of and willing to support is one of the larger goals Heim holds.
To help with this, a few varsity players will take part in the community youth football games each Sunday.
“We want to bring the community back on to our lovely new field,” said Heim. “We are going to build a program the community can be proud of.”
The Vikings will start the season off hard with a three and a half hour drive to take on Oscoda in the opener. Oscoda made it into the playoffs last season and Heim said the game will provide an interesting “ice breaker” for his team.
“It will be a learning experience, but we’ll take it in stride. The team will have to jump off the bus after three hours, ready to play,” said Heim. “That’s how you get better, you play better teams.”
Looking to build the team’s mental fortitude and ability to utilize their smarts and brawn on the field, Heim said promoting a positive frame of mind can go a long way towards cultivating a successful team atmosphere.
“You don’t inherit your attitude, you create it,” explained Heim. “Instead of looking at what you did wrong, we’ll look at how to do it right. With the kids and the coaching staff, we will play the next play. Forget the first play because just like in life, there are no do-overs.”
Heim’s passion for the sport and his team are apparent. He works the night shift, which allows him the time needed to coach and looks forward to each time he can step on to the field.
“It’s never a problem getting up in the morning during football season,” joked Heim. “It’s all about the kids. Every coach worth their salt thinks that way.”
With his focus on playing a positive game, putting the kids first, Heim is sure to have success this season.