Eric Herrick has a loyalty to North Hall High that’s stood the test of time.
A man with many interesting life experiences and different coaching stops looks back with the highest regard on the school where he played his final two seasons of prep basketball in 1993 and 1994, after moving in from East Point.
Now, he’s settling in as its new girls basketball coach.
And he couldn’t be any happier about being back in Gainesville.
The Lady Trojans’ new coach gets goose bumps just talking about coming back to coach at the school where he won a Lanierland title as a player in 1993.
“Coming back to coach here at North Hall is a dream come true,” said Herrick, a 20-year-coaching veteran, who was hired for the position on March 25. “To come here, end my career here, I couldn’t have written it any better. I’ve had great success at other stops and tremendous experiences at other places. But if I could ask for anything in the world, it would be to be right where I’m at right now.”
Upon landing the job in the spring, Herrick returned to North Hall’s campus to stroll the same hallways he once walked as a student and show his two daughters around.
“This is such a special place for me,” he said.
Three weeks into summer practice, North Hall’s newest coach wants to continue its success that took place under former coach Kristi House, which most recently included a trip to the 2020 state semifinals in Valdosta.
Herrick expects his new program to be able to compete for region championships on a yearly basis as it moves up to Class 4A, starting in the fall.
“We’re going to have higher expectations for ourselves than anyone else can put on us,” Herrick said. “We’re going to play hard, practice hard every single day.”
Herrick, who has won 361 career games and guided four programs to the state semifinals, is going to build his program on structure and discipline.
It’s the life lessons he learned from four years in the Air Force, time he served proudly between the start of his college career at Piedmont College and the completion of his basketball playing days and education at Berry College.
In the Air Force, Herrick was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, Panama City, Florida and Mountain Home, Idaho.
His work in the Air Force was extremely important, providing necessary weather reports to pilots.
Especially along the Gulf Coast, it could be stressful with conditions that could change in a heartbeat.
However, it’s where he learned discipline and how to conduct himself.
Once Herrick went back to school, he was far better equipped to succeed in the classroom and do well playing basketball.
“You learn how to carry yourself in the military, respect your leaders, chain of command and discipline,” said Herrick, who coached at Dawson County from 2019-2022. “It provides you with a sense of pride in what you’re doing.”
Even though he’s very structured, Herrick said that having fun is going to be part of his program at North Hall.
“After 20 years of coaching, I’m totally different than I was at the start of my career,” Herrick said. “It’s OK for the players to like you, OK to have fun and build relationships. It’s OK to get to know each other’s families. I want kids to look forward to coming to practice.”
The longest stint for Herrick in his career was with the North Forsyth girls, leading its program from 2012-18.
North Hall’s new girls hoops coach learned to love the game during two years attending Tri-Cities High and playing for fun at the Hapeville Recreation Center, which are both close to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
“(At Tri-Cities) You either compete and win or sit for two hours,” said Herrick, who lived up to age 13 in Daytona Beach, Florida. “You learn to take every possession serious.”
Since making coaching his career, Herrick’s network of mentors includes some of the best names in the business, none bigger than Buford girls coach Gene Durden, who has guided its program to eight state championships since 2009.
“Gene gives more to this game than anyone I’ve ever known,” Herrick said. “Gene’s not just a great mentor, but also a great friend.”