When he moved to Jackson several years back, West Lauderdale alumnus Grant Hill sent his resume to every baseball coaching job in the area.
A former Knights baseball player, Hill had previously coached at Union and Lafayette high schools as an assistant. Hill’s wife was finishing pharmacy school in Jackson at the time, and he wanted to keep coaching the sport he’s known his whole life. The only job opening, though, was an assistant softball position at Brandon High School.
Since taking that job, Hill has never looked back and even spent the past school year as an assistant softball coach at West Lauderdale. Now, Hill will guide the Lady Bulldogs, as he recently accepted the head softball coaching position at Clarkdale.
“I’m from this area, so I’ve gotten to see how Clarkdale works my whole life and what the community is like,” Hill said. “To get offered the job means a whole lot to me.”
After growing up playing baseball, Hill said making the transition to softball at Brandon opened a new world for him, and he’s come to enjoy coaching the sport.
“A lot of guys get started in softball like I did, I think: You take a chance and then realize how much you like it,” Hill said. “I took a chance on softball when I moved to Jackson at Brandon, and I fell in love with the sport. It is faster than baseball, errors are more magnified and small ball plays a bigger part. Girls are also just really tough and focus on the details.”
Clarkdale athletic director Scott Gibson, who coaches the school’s baseball team, said he first encountered Hill coaching against him in a baseball game, and when Lady Bulldogs head coach Kate McCarty accepted a teaching position at West Lauderdale, Gibson contacted Hill to see if he was interested in the job.
“He was a guy who went on my radar back then,” Gibson recalled. “We reached out as soon as the job came open, then sat down and met with him. It’s a great fit for both sides, and we’re excited about having him.”
Gibson said Hill’s enthusiasm and excitement for the game, as well as his knowledge and work ethic, made him an easy choice for Clarkdale. Hill described his coaching style as passionate with a particular interest in the “little things.”
“I’m someone that focuses on making sure we’re not beating ourselves first by understanding situations, the mental side of the game and how to execute in certain situations, things of that nature,” Hill said.
While he remembers the Clarkdale players being hard-nosed when he coached against them at West Lauderdale this past school year, Hill said he hasn’t had time time acclimate himself with the players yet. Summer workouts were ongoing before Hill came down with the coronavirus, which forced him to shut down workouts for the rest of the summer.
“Everything is kind of up in the air right now,” Hill said. “If we’re in school, we’ll be practicing. I’m still learning how this process is going to go.”
Hill said he was grateful for the opportunity to coach at his alma mater this past season and will treasure the experience as he looks forward to the next chapter in his coaching journey.
“I loved being able to come back and coach at a school I got to play for,” Hill said. “To take the next step and become a head coach, it was something I couldn’t turn down, especially at a great school like Clarkdale.”