New basketball coach Ricky Hill helps team find success on and off the court

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Caleb Stipkovits

New girls varsity basketball head coach Ricky Hill (middle) draws up a game plan during the December 19th match vs. North High School. “I started coaching my daughter, and that’s how I got into coaching girls basketball.”

Caleb Stipkovits, News Editor

The women’s varsity basketball team has had a new coach this year, Ricky Hill. Hill, who graduated from South in 1985, played basketball and football in high school. His first coaching job can be traced back to his years as a tiger. “My first coaching job was back in high school, when I coached my little sisters’ [teams]” he said.

Hill went to college at Boise State University in Idaho. After college, Hill coached both men’s basketball and football for six years before returning to Minnesota, where he was the head coach for Minneapolis Henry High School for three years. 

But something made him transition into coaching girls teams, “I started coaching my daughter, and that’s how I got into coaching girls basketball, I coached her from the time she was 8 years old to the time she was in high school,” said Hill. He further explained how that has led him to coaching the girls varsity team today; “Ever since I started coaching my daughter, I’ve been coaching girls.”

Hill’s most recent coaching job before coming to South was impressive. “I coached at DeLaSalle the last three years prior to this job here… we won state last year,” He said.

The team has gotten off to a great start so far this year, with 11 wins and 2 losses. After a victory over North High School on Thursday, December 19th, you can see why they’re won so much. The team is cooperative and fluidly moves the ball across the court. They were able to intercept opponents’ passes and find open players to make shots. “I think the season is going a lot better than last year, everyone’s presence is a lot happier… this year everyone’s excited about [playing],”  said one of the team captains, Camryn Benjamin.

Hill says the team’s performance has gotten better as the season has gone on. “The girls are stepping up and making plays, we don’t want to be a one man team,” said Hill. “Playing unselfish, playing for each other, I think that’s probably the biggest thing, to get the girls to share the ball… we want to be able to support each other,” said Hill, explaining his goals for the team.

One thing that has been implemented to the team this year is a new attendance policy. “If we skip a class or have an unexcused absence, then we sit out a quarter of the game because [Ricky’s] saying that he says is ‘I’ll never cut you off the team, you’ll cut yourself off by your actions’,” said Benjamin.

“At first the players were like, ‘what, that’s weird, your doing too much’ but now it has helped them because now we have to hold them accountable… I think it’s actually a good policy to have,” said Benjamin’s co-captain Jade Hill.

The players think fondly of their new coach. “Our coach this year, he’s a lot more patient with us, and he just has an aura about him that’s light and he likes to joke around a lot. He’s very relatable, he makes us feel like we fit in,” said Benjamin.  When asked what words described him, she said “goofy”.

Helping players grow off the court is one of Hill’s favorite parts of coaching. “That’s probably the thing I say I enjoy the most, the wins and losses, that stuff you don’t remember 20 years from now. But when you can change a girl’s character and behavior, and she can come back 20 years from now and say ‘thank you, you were very instrumental in my life’, thats whats important to me.”

There is a lot more in Hill’s life than coaching. “I like to work out, hang out with my wife, hang out with my grandson, hang out with family,” said Hill. He also likes to travel, and has positive memories of one of the places he’s been. “My daughter played for Oregon State University, [so] my wife and I moved out there for two years, that was a great experience.” 

“I’m very easy going, I think I’m very friendly, I’m laid back, I like to have fun… I just enjoy seeing people succeed, I love that. I tell the girls that I’m gonna be [their] best cheerleader, I want to see them be successful, and I want to see [them] improve as people,” said Hill.  Jade Hill agrees. When asked what he has brought to the team, she commented “definitely his positive encouragement, he’s always encouraging, he’s never down, never has a negative attitude.” 

Coach Hill hopes more people come to watch the girls play, considering how much they’ve grown. “We’re very exciting to watch; our girls play hard, we’re starting to play more unselfishly. People want to see excitement, people want to see discipline, they want to see people share the basketball,” said Hill. The women’s varsity team has all of it, plus an 11-2 record. Perhaps this could be thanks to Hill’s 27 years of coaching basketball.