For Brad Hill, coaching baseball was always in his blood, on his mind, and in his plans. And, after 38+ years, the results of that coaching desire are quite evident.
As a young baseball talent growing up in Central Kansas, Brad participated in the McPherson Babe Ruth Baseball League during the years of 1975-1977. Many memorable moments came from that experience, culminating in a state championship in 1977 and a valuable unforgettable experience playing in the Midwest Plains 13-15 Regional Tournament in Minnesota. The late Verne Moore was the coach of that team which took home a fourth place finish.
“Brad was a joy to watch play. You could see his desire to do his best and he showcased his leadership qualities from the get-go. It was an honor to even be in the opposing dugout and watch Brad play. He was by far the best ball player I’ve seen play Babe Ruth Baseball,” wrote Kermit Hawley, a coach in the McPherson league.
After playing Legion baseball, Brad enjoyed four years of collegiate baseball garnering NAIA All-American honors each year at Emporia State University. He graduated from ESU with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education. Hill still owns a majority of the Hornets’ career offensive marks.
Following his collegiate playing career, Hill spent four seasons in the Texas Rangers minor league system before entering the coaching profession as head coach at Hutchinson community College. After turning the Hutchinson program around during his three years there, he joined his college coach, Dave Bingham, as an assistant coach at the University of Kansas. Brad spent four seasons with the Jayhawks helping KU to their first and only trip to the College World Series in 1993.
Brad then began his head coaching stint at the University of Central Missouri where he coached for nine years. While at UCM, Brad guided the Mules to an impressive 419-91 overall record. He led UCM to the NCAA Tournament each of his nine seasons, including seven trips to the College World Series. He capped his career at Central Missouri by helping the Mules win its second national championship in baseball and was named the 2003 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year.
After an ultra-successful stint at UCM, Brad took over a Kansas State program in 2004 that had just one winning season in the last six years. Hard work and commitment have fueled the program at KSU since. During Hill’s time as the K-State skipper, he has guided the Wildcats from the depths of the Big 12 to four NCAA Regional appearances and the first conference championship since 1933.
Not only has Kansas State baseball been winners on the field, but Hill has put an emphasis on his players’ performance in the classroom. Coach Hill believes that each and every player needs a degree to fall back on. Since only a small number of baseball players make a living playing baseball, their “education is a lifetime security blanket.” This philosophy is evident as the Cats have had 53 Academic All-Big 12 selections and three Academic All-Americans during his stay at Kansas State University.
There are many honors and land marks achieved during Hill’s tenure at K-State. Among those are:
- 2009 and 2013 Big 12 Coach of the Year
- Induction into the University of Central Missouri Hall of Fame in 2009
- 188 wins over the last five years
- 41 All-Big 12 selections
- Guided the Wildcats to a school record 45 wins, the program’s first Big 12 regular season championship in 80 years, and an NCAA Regional host site in 2013
Looking back over his baseball career, Brad says that volunteers like the late Verne Moore and the support of his Dad were very big influences on his future baseball and life successes. And Brad states, “I am truly humbled to be a part of this group who have influenced and provided many opportunities for so many young baseball players.”
A native of Galva, Kansas, Brad and his wife, Crystal, now reside in Manhattan, Kansas. They have three children: sons Skylar Southards and Harrison, and daughter Shelby Lynne.