Ron Hill just wrapped up his 49th season coaching youth football.
He came from Beebe to play football at UCA in the late 1960s and ended up staying here and starting a family. It was also in the late 1960’s when he started his coaching career.
He’s always been involved in youth sports, serving for a time as commissioner of the old YBMA baseball program. But it has not always been just about the boys. Ron has two daughters, Nikki and Jennifer, and he coached them in basketball and softball.
When Jennifer got to Conway High, they did not have a softball program. Ron convinced the school board to start one, but he had to help coach it as a volunteer, which he did.
Ron has coached hundreds of kids over the years. He has coached kids who have won a Super Bowl (Greg Lasker) and kids who have gone to prison and pretty much everything in between. And while it might take him a minute to recall the name, he can tell you something about each and every one.
There are certainly other good coaches who do right by the kids, but few have done it as long or as well as Ron.
If a kid needs a ride, he picks them up and takes them home. If the kid is hungry, he’ll stop and get them a hamburger. If they have a little brother … well, Ron will buy a little extra.
When a player shows up in cleats that are too small or pants that are too big, he makes sure that proper equipment is given to the boy at the next practice. Ron makes sure all of us coaches chip in a little at picture time, so that every player gets a team photo.
He teaches kids discipline and accountability. He looks at report cards. If a kid needs a little help, instead of practicing that day, he will be on the sideline with Ron’s daughter, Jennifer, who is a teacher.
Once a sizeable lead is established, he will call off the dogs. While I’ve seen other teams run up the score, Ron does not believe in that. If we win the coin toss, Ron will defer to the second half, so that we kick off to the other team to start the game. If we have a good lead, he’ll kick off to them again to start the second half.
If the win is in hand, his favorite trick is to tell the ref that if somehow our ballcarrier runs for a score, throw the flag for a "holding penalty" somewhere by somebody.
This year, Ron coached his two youngest grandsons. Both are sixth-graders and will move on to middle school football next year, so Ron may finally have an eye on retirement. We’ll see.
My son played three years for Ron and I got to help coach. I would not trade our experience for anything.