The phone keeps ringing, and the fax machine keeps humming, but Randy Hill won't complain.
Lakeside head coach Randy Hill watches Jimmy Johnson during a recent passing drill.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
That's part of being the first-year athletic director and head football coach at Lakeside High School.
"It's been a little bit more hectic than imaginable. I need more time in the day," Hill said last week, looking quite cozy in his cluttered and cramped office. "We have so many sports at Lakeside, it's a matter of keeping on top of things. But I've enjoyed it."
At this time last year, Hill was busy fighting an uphill battle - trying to adapt to Ed Koester, who had replaced Steve Crislip as Lakeside football coach and athletic director.
Hill was in the running for the jobs, but Koester got the nod.
Instead of packing his bags, Hill decided to stay on as assistant football coach, and was determined to put aside any hard feelings.
"I'm not one to cry over spilled milk; I've never been that way," he said. "That was the key last year - no sour grapes. I didn't whine about it. I think that has been a positive, not only to other coaches, but for my family."
Following a sub-par football season, and other problems, Koester resigned his positions. That opened the door for Hill, who was promoted to football coach and AD last spring.
In the end, Hill believes his loyalty to Lakeside was rewarded.
"I probably don't know as much about football as some of the other people that applied," he said. "Being able to work with other people and being enthused about the program are key selling points."
For the 2002-03 school year, Lakeside has adopted the slogan "New Attitude," and Hill is leading the chorus.
"New attitude would mean that there is a more positive aspect about the things that we're doing," Hill said. "To have a balance between administration, athletics, the faculty - just to get everybody involved and let them enjoy the experience."
Hill is a native of Cincinnati, but has lived in Columbia County since 1982. He began coaching and teaching at Columbia Middle School that year, and joined Lakeside when the high school opened in 1988.
At Lakeside he has been head coach of the boys soccer team, currently coaches the Panthers in wrestling, and has been part of the football program since day one.
In the classroom, Hill earned accolades in 1999, when he was named Lakeside's Teacher of the Year.
And as a father of three - two boys and a girl - he's learned a few things about equality.
"My one big push when I came in here is to get the girls program out of the back seat and up front with the boys," he said. "I want fairness across the board."
Facility-wise, Hill's vision is to add a weight room at Lakeside, and work on gym improvements.
Since taking over as AD, Hill already has upgraded the coaching staff by hiring Donny Rogers to guide the girls soccer team and bringing Jay Matthews on board in softball. Also, Hill has lured Lakeside coaching veterans Bill Richey and Jimmy Smith to the gridiron.
"There's no way a head coach can do it all himself," Hill explains. "You have to depend on your assistants, and I have some good ones. Everybody gets along and works well together."
There are indications that working with Koester was more problematic - some observers say it was his way or the highway.
Hill has tried to make things a two-way street for his staff.
"I think they realize my demeanor is different than a lot of people's. I've never been a tyrant," Hill said. "I'm probably not as stringent and forceful as our last coach, and I'm not as laid back as Coach Crislip. I try to make all our coaches feel at home, that nobody is better than anybody else. I'd like to get that balance with all of our sports."
Being athletic director and head football coach may be the ultimate balancing act - Hill realizes there will be critics, and some of them may be justified.
But when the heat is on, he'll remember some words of wisdom from Crislip.
"I heard him say one time, 'Do you hear the fans booing at us?' And I said, 'Yeah. What do you think about that?,"' Hill recalled. "He said, 'They're probably right."'
"I'm going to worry about what people think, and everybody should. A coach can't be perfect, and there is going to be backlash from parents. You just have to do the best job you can and make them believe in you."
Hill admits he faces a steep learning curve in his first full year as AD, and he already is figuring out how to do his job better next school year.
Considering he's coming in on the heels of four county athletic directors getting the boot, planning for the future is a step in the right direction.
"I don't want to make any mistakes, I don't want to slip up - nobody does," he said. "But I'm happy where I'm at and I hope things will work out."
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