BRATTLEBORO >> On a day when many families go around the table to hear what each person is thankful for, there's a good chance that Nicholas Pillsbury will mention his father during his turn.
"My dad was my biggest fan. He would call me every day to make sure I was going in the right direction. On my bad days, he would pick me back up and help me stay on task and achieve my goals. Without my father's support, I wouldn't have made it through," said Pillsbury, referring to his time at Mitchell College in New London, Conn.
The 2010 Brattleboro Union High School graduate would earn a degree from Mitchell in Sports Fitness Management in 2014 and was then hired as Hinsdale High School's Athletic Director. He is the youngest AD in the Granite State.
"My first season was overwhelming. Long days and very little sleep. It was an awesome opportunity and I learned a crazy amount. There is so much more that goes into being the AD than I would ever imagine," Pillsbury told the Reformer. "Giving kids the chance to prove themselves and become better people through athletics is really my goal. I think the best thing you can give anybody is an opportunity. That's what life is all about."
Pillsbury's fall season consisted of lots of conferences, phone calls, emailing, scheduling and paperwork. But seeing the look on the face of a Hinsdale soccer player just after they scored a goal and hearing fans cheering during games have made it all worth it.
"Being the AD at Hinsdale is such an honor and I am forever grateful for this community. The support is amazing and the athletes have so much potential. I wouldn't trade this job in for anything else. Not many people get to say they love their job, but I do," Pillsbury stated. "I am blessed to be where I am now. Hard work pays off."
The Pacers have had plenty of success in the past. Hinsdale four-peated as Class M baseball champions from 1972-75 and won seven boys soccer crowns between 1977 and 1986. The latest title was captured two years ago by the varsity girls basketball team, which was led by 1,000-point scorers Skylar Bonnette and Allison Scott.
"Ever since high school I knew that I wanted to work in the athletic field. I wanted to continue my love for all sports. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do at the time, but I knew it had to be related to athletics," stated Pillsbury, who was the Mitchell AD's intern, allowing him to schedule games, plan banquets and start a fundraiser.
The son of Daryl and Bridget Pillsbury, Nicholas grew up in Brattleboro. He attended Green Street Elementary School, BAMS and then BUHS, where he played varsity football and lacrosse for the Colonels. His best high school sports memories include beating MAU on the gridiron as a junior and scoring a hat trick in lacrosse when a college recruiter was watching him.
"One of the best feelings was my junior year playing football and we beat our rival MAU to bring home the trophy. It was unforgettable and I can still remember that night like yesterday," noted Pillsbury.
He would then play Division 3 lacrosse at Mitchell College, helping the Mariners to consecutive conference crowns. His challenging college days started with 5 a.m. workouts, which were followed by four classes, LAX practice, dinner and then studying.
And somewhere along the way would be a call from his father — to talk about how classes were going or maybe just talk about the upcoming lacrosse matchup.
"My dad was the loudest fan that we had at games," joked Pillsbury.