After being named Lakeside High School's new head football coach and athletic director Monday morning, Randy Hill chose to look ahead.
The longtime Lakeside assistant football coach didn't want to dwell on being passed over for the jobs last year, and he wasn't interested in recounting the tumultuous tenure of his predecessor, Ed Koester.
"That's something in the past. In life you go through ups and downs, and some of those downs you've got to put behind you. Once they're behind you, you've got to keep looking forward," Hill said during a press conference where he officially took the reins of the Lakeside football team and athletic program.
"This is a great opportunity. I'm proud to be here. I've been at Lakeside since the school opened up, and I'm thankful I've got this opportunity. To me, this is a big step when internal people are able to move up."
Hill was close to taking that step last April. He was among four finalists to replace retiring head football coach and athletic director Steve Crislip.
Despite receiving strong support from Lakeside athletic boosters, Hill was denied his "dream job," as former principal Victor Lee selected Koester.
Hill remained on the football staff, and says there was no satisfaction in seeing Koester and the Panthers struggle to a 4-6 season in 2001. A one-point loss to Hephzibah High School was the killer - that 21-20 loss at Panther Stadium ended Lakeside's quest for a third-straight state playoff berth.
"You work so hard to reach a certain point, and when that point doesn't come, you feel like it's your fault - mine," Hill said. "You take the weight on your shoulders. I was sick to my stomach to realize how close we were to the opportunity.
"Anything you do, when you don't reach your goal, it's frustrating. Opportunities are few and far between. You just look at it and say 'That's the way it goes. Now we've got to work hard and do it again."'
Following the 2001 football season, Koester resigned, and that gave Hill another opportunity. New Lakeside principal Jeff Carney chose Hill from a pool of 15 applicants.
Hill, 45, plans to continue coaching the Lakeside wrestling team. He also wants to keep the current coaching staff intact.
In his rapid-fire speaking style, Hill briefly outlined his plans for Panther athletics.
"Our motto this year, with me at the helm, is 'A new attitude.' We want to develop a new attitude with all of our programs, develop more camaraderie between our students, faculty and parents," Hill said. "I'm probably bringing an attitude very similar to (Crislip), in his attitude toward people. Hopefully, we're going to be very intense. That's one thing I've developed through my other sports. My coaching style is one with a lot of enthusiasm - develop a team pride and take it from there."
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