College Sports

State College of Florida Q&A | It's a whole new ball game for retiring head coach Tim Hill


State College of Florida head baseball coach Tim Hill saw his career end May 5 with a defeat in the state tournament.

That the Manatees lost Hill's final game -- it was a 13-2 drubbing at the hands of Northwest Florida State -- wasn't unusual.

It's something that happened every season Hill has been at the helm of the Manatees. The club never won that elusive national championship, though it twice finished second at the JUCO World Series.

But Hill's legacy, both on and off the baseball diamond, is much more than his impressive won-loss record. He racked up 1,109 victories against just 484 losses in his 31-year tenure as SCF's head baseball coach. His teams competed in the JUCO World Series five times.

SCF will return next season to chase a national title that the tradition-rich program has sought since its inception more than 50 years ago.

But Hill won't be back as the head coach.

The veteran announced his retirement earlier this year, and his son, Tim Hill II, was named his successor after several seasons as an assistant.

However, Hill isn't retiring just yet.

That doesn't officially take place until June 30th, when he finishes teaching a summer school class at the college.

And that aspect, the teaching, is what's the most important facet to what Hill gave to the program during his 30-plus seasons as coach at SCF.

While Hill said he's not quite sure what he'll do post-retirement, he added he'll stay busy with a large family that lives in the area. That includes spending time with seven grandchildren and an eighth due to arrive in early June.

We sat down with Coach Hill, affectionately known as "7" by his players, to take a look at his career and what he plans next:

Q. What's the mindset for you now that you are no longer the head coach?

A. That's where I am right now. The season's over, and I'm not the head coach anymore. I really have started trying to get use to this. ... I don't retire until June 30th. I've still got a class to teach this summer, which starts next Monday. I'm still involved with the college until June 30th, so I still have a few responsibilities. And helping Tim coordinate things for the summer and fall and recruiting and all that sort of stuff. So, I've still got my hand in it a little bit. More of like a consultation aspect right now with baseball with Tim.

Q. How's your health right now?

A. Right now, my back is giving me really big problems. I'll solve that situation this summer ... and once I get that squared away, I'll feel a whole lot better. But right now, my back is really my biggest issue at this particular point.

Q. How you've molded players to become adults off the field, is that the most important aspect of your coaching legacy?

A. We're not professional coaches here. It's not professional baseball. It's college baseball. So education's a big part of it. We try to keep in mind here that these kids, we're trying to teach them something besides baseball. And it's satisfying when the kids do leave here and they go on and make a success out of their lives.

Q. The way your career ended, a 10-run mercy rule loss at the state tournament, doesn't define your career at the college. But what are your thoughts on how the state tournament went?

A. The way we lost it, in five innings with the 10-run rule, it was kind of disappointing. The way we won our opener was extremely (exciting). I thought the kids really did an outstanding job that first game.

Q. Now that the year is over, do you feel like you've given everything that you can give to the program and college?

A. Absolutely. Every season is like that. The last ballgame is always a disappointment, because we've always lost it whether it's been at the state tournament or whether it's been at the national tournament. But we've had a lot of thrills along the way, and a lot of success with the kids. And it's exciting to see the sophomores move on, whether they go to a four-year school or into pro ball. And how they develo, and follow their careers. And it's exciting to see our young kids coming back next year and how they mature and develop.

Q. In a career with so many special memories and moments, there's not one defining moment. So what's the most satisfying part of the job you are leaving behind?

A. The wins and losses and championships, they are just kind of fleeting moments. And they are replaced by the next game or the next tournament or the next year, next season. But the relationships you build throughout the years ... that's what's most satisfying to me.