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North hires Nathan Chin as new football coach

Nathan Chin saw firsthand this spring what Steve Turner was able to do in a short time at North Medford High School.

Now, Chin is being tasked to continue the momentum that Turner created over the last couple of years.

After spending the past 10 months as the assistant head coach at Crater, Chin has been hired as North Medford’s head football coach, the school announced Friday. Chin, who also spent 14 years as an assistant at Southern Oregon University, takes over for Turner, who retired in May.

Turner, who was hired in 2018, was 14-12 with the Black Tornado, including 4-2 during the pandemic-altered 2021 spring season.

“It felt comfortable,” Chin said of the interview process with North. “Talking to the people there, it just felt right, and talking about the culture that I believe in — and obviously, it’s a culture that I have adopted from (former SOU head coach Craig) Howard. What he taught us in those years, you can’t measure it.”

What first attracted Chin to the North job was easy to identify.

“I think it’s just the history. There’s certain schools in the state, any state, that just have history,” Chin said without hesitation. “The history that North Medford has and the tradition that’s there and, honestly, my family is embedded in that district right now, all those things were attractive when going for the job.”

And what attracted North to making Chin its final choice was just as easy to identify.

“We met with every single player and the one thing that those players kept coming back to us with was that they wanted a coach that stressed the player-coach development, not just on the football but in life as well,” North Medford athletic director Brent McConaghy said. “Through all the interviews we had, through all the conversations that we had with coach Chin, he was the person that could identify with our athletes the most, that could empathize and connect with them not just on a football but on a human level.

“That’s one thing that coach Chin did a great job of, stressing the humanity of people and the goodness of people, and that’s something we want to make sure is part of our program.”

There were around 25 applicants for the job, said McConaghy, with candidates applying from all around the country.

“When it came down to it with our last two candidates, Nathan was just the guy that had the message that resonated with our players that were in the (selection) committee, the parents,” McConaghy said. “He was somebody we thought could be a part of the Black Tornado program in terms of creating a culture of accountability and creating a culture where there’s more than just football.”

“And we wanted to make sure that we found somebody that will be here for the next five to 10 years,” McConaghy continued. “Coach Chin is definitely somebody, we believe, who will be here for the next 10 years. We’re excited for the process he’s going to create and the culture he’s going to bring to Black Tornado football.”

Chin, a former quarterback at SOU, has been a head coach once before, at Mayville State — an NAIA school in Mayville, North Dakota — from 2008 to 2010 after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.

He then returned to SOU for his second stint with the Raiders after Howard was named head coach in 2011. He was a part of a program that subsequently went on one of the best runs in school history, including winning the 2014 national title.

Chin’s role on the SOU coaching staff was not limited to one position group or one side of the ball. He coached receivers, defensive backs and was the Raiders’ special teams coordinator. Prior to going to Crater, Chin was the assistant head coach under both Howard and Charlie Hall.

Chin has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and business and a master’s degree in social science from SOU and also completed the school’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. He said that implementing his own culture is one of the things he’s most looking forward to once he’s able to meet with his new players in the coming weeks.

“Just those things (from Howard) have played a huge role as I’ve gotten into the latter part of my career and you really start to understand ways to build culture in a positive way,” Chin said. “Those are the things I’m excited about — introducing a culture that’s different, and I think this generation of kids are more open to that type.”

“Using the word ‘love’ in a setting of high school kids and being able to care for each other and play for each other,” Chin continued, “that has always been a part of sports and I think there’s an added level to it now by bringing that love-as-part-of-your-family aspect to it.”

During his one season at Crater, Chin described his job as being head coach Berk Brown’s “right-hand man.” Chin served a variety of roles, from assistant head coach to helping run the offense to special teams coordinator for the Comets.

With Crater, Chin saw what Turner’s North squad was all about in a 25-18 Black Tornado win in Central Point on March 19.

“They’re a big team,” Chin said of the Black Tornado. “They play physical football, and that’s the way coach Turner liked it. Coach Turner was a physical football coach — getting in ‘21’ personnel and running short toss and ISO is what he’s built, and he’s been doing that a long time. Those things, you can teach kids to be more and more physical, but some of those things are built into them. Those are the things that really jumped out.”

When it comes to what Chin’s Black Tornado team might look like, it will be more the coach adjusting to the players he has rather than trying to get the players to radically change their scheme.

As Chin joked, he’s no longer in college, where he can simply go out and recruit players that fit into what he wants to do offensively or defensively. He has to adjust to what is on his roster and go from there.

Turner’s Black Tornado squad scored at least 25 points in each of their six games this spring.

“I am a big believer in evaluating the kids and what fits them best,” Chin said. “We’ve got to play to their strengths. All the stuff that I’ve learned over the years between a balanced run-pass game to almost an Air Raid type of offense at SOU, finding a mixture of that and really diving into the kids, I think that’s really going to be the key going into North.”

Chin said he has not yet spoken to players on his new team, but is looking forward to meeting everyone on the North Medford roster.

And when it comes to being the Black Tornado’s new head coach, Chin is already raring to go whenever that introduction to his players takes place.

“I’m just … excited,” Chin said. “To just get out in front of (the players), see them work and just see how they operate. When you’re going into a job like this and it’s pretty much July, I think the important piece is to keep them calm. Obviously, as we’ve found out this year, kids can adapt to change and COVID taught us that. I just want to ensure that they’re still willing to work and get in front of them, talk to them, get to know them — that’s what the next six weeks prior to a training camp is going to look like.”

Reach Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Nathan Chin