RONDA — East Wilkes softball coach, Derrick Hill, was inducted into the North Carolina Softball Coaches Hall of Fame last week. Hill has coached softball for 20 years, with 16 of those years being at the high-school level.
“Being selected for an honor like this phenomenal,” said Hill. “Everyone dreams of being at the top of your chosen field and so did I, but more importantly I think it means that other folks have noticed that you at least tried to do things the right way. I was inducted into the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and that was a huge honor as well so I have been very blessed with a lot of great support over the years.”
Hill was a head coach at East Surry for 13 years, where he led the Cardinals to four 1A State Championships from 2008-2011. As an assistant coach, Hill helped lead East Surry to a softball state championship in 1999 and a basketball championship in 2001.
“Having the opportunity to play in several state finals is a good one but the older I get, the bus rides and post game meals and those type of interactions become more important to me,” Hill said about his favorite memories. “Coaching, and teaching, are about building meaningful relationships with the kids.”
Hill is the softball coach at East Wilkes and will be heading into his fourth season with the Cardinals. Last season, Hill had an overall record of 15-9 and a Mountain Valley Athletic Conference record of 8-6. In the MVAC tournament, the Cardinals made it to the championship game before losing to the eventual NCHSAA State Champions, Alleghany.
“I would say the most satisfying thing about coaching anything is trying to mold a group of young people into a team with a like mindset all with a common goal,” said Hill.
The Hall of Fame induction is an honor for Hill, as he has worked countless hours on and off the field. At East Wilkes, Hill has an overall record of 41-34 and a conference record of 25-17.
“There are a lot of people I would like to thank, beginning with my wife Robin. Nothing I do is possible without her and our daughters, Kris, Kelley and Kari, who all played for me at East Surry,” said Hill. “My mom and dad, Violet and Ray, they have a never ending belief in me. My brother, Kevin, is super supportive as well.
“A huge influence on me for all of my career was Coach Mike Lambros at North Davidson, who sadly passed away last fall after a long battle with cancer. The entire North Carolina softball family misses him terribly,” said Hill on who he would like to thank. “Pop Rivers, who is retired from Forest Hills High School, nominated me for this, so a huge thank you to him. There are a thousand others that would take two days to list but all my former and current players, all my assistants and school administrators have obviously vital to our success.”
Hill has one of the best coaching mentalities in the area, if not the state of North Carolina. He is a role model to countless athletes and students.
“Develop your philosophy for coaching, from watching and talking to successful coaches,” said Hill on his advice to aspiring softball coached. “Ask them questions and listen. Also listen to your players.”