Scrolling through his Twitter feed, Adam Nissen saw something interesting: St. Laurence was in the market for a new varsity football coach.
Nissen was ready to jump at the opportunity.
After two years at IC Catholic Prep in Elmhurst as the athletic director, Nissen was named the varsity football coach at St. Laurence on April 30.
He replaces Harold Blackmon who was fired on April 1.
“I heard about the job on Twitter on my phone. It’s obviously a pretty prestigious job,” Nissen said. “I said in the interview that there are a handful of jobs I would have stepped away from IC for, and this was one of them. The talent and the type of kids we have here, it’s something I couldn’t turn down.”
Nissen was previously an assistant at Mt. Carmel (2014-17), Urban Prep (2009-14) and Clemente (2007-08).
He was the athletic director at IC Catholic from 2017-2019. The Knights football program has won a state title three straight seasons.
Picking things up along the way, Nissen is ready to put his personal stamp on the St. Laurence program.
“You learn a lot. At Clemente, I was 24 and didn’t know anything about anything,” Nissen said. “You learn organization, scripting a practice plan. I was the offensive coordinator at Urban Prep, so you study defenses, go to clinics. At Mt. Carmel, it was coaching, the schemes, coaching and establishing that culture.”
Nissen is an Evergreen Park resident. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 2006.
With the Vikings, he takes the helm for a program that finished 4-7 in 2018. St. Laurence missed the state playoffs for the first time since 2013.
First on the checklist is getting the Vikings back to their winning ways.
Junior running back Nate Thomas will be back to lead the offense after a breakout sophomore season.
Nissen knew right away the style of play he wanted to install.
“We’re not going to be too cute. We’ll smash you in the mouth,” Nissen said. “We’ll run the football and sprinkle in some passing. It’s going to be traditional South Side Catholic League football.”
In the merged Chicago Catholic League and East Suburban Catholic Conference, St. Laurence will compete in the Orange division with Nazareth Academy, Benet Academy and De La Salle.
Nissen isn’t looking past any opponents on the schedule with the Vikings hosting Hyde Park on Aug. 30 to open the season, but goals for the program are as high as possible.
“State championship, if I said anything else, I’d be lying,” Nissen said. “That’s the goal every year. Call me crazy or unrealistic, but with the skill and talent we have, the coaches, anything less than a state championship will be a disappointment.”
St. Laurence Athletic Director Tim Chandler said he is excited to have Nissen join the Vikings.
“Adam has an outstanding record of success both on and off the field,” Chandler said in a news release. “He has a proven record of putting his student-athletes first and developing meaningful relationships with his players while also holding them accountable.”
From assistant to head coach, Nissen can’t wait for kickoff on Aug. 30.
“I’m excited. This is my dream job,” Nissen said. “I’m finally where I want to be from a coaching standpoint. It’s a great group of guys, and the seniors are awesome.”
Blackmon went 41-37 in 7 seasons and won two Chicago Catholic League-White titles and led the Vikings to back-to-back state semifinal appearances in 2015 and 2016.
He has since taken the head varsity football post at Oak Lawn Community High School.