PEMBERVILLE — Last month when Mike Gardner announced his retirement as Eastwood golf coach after 51 years, he handed Athletic Director Jeff Hill notebook paper on which he wrote down over 100 reasons why “it was time.”
Most were as basic, such as wanting to spend more time with family. But Hill said, after he read that, he saw that nine of Gardner’s top 10 reasons were also reasons why it was time for Hill to step away.
So, after 42 years in education, including 17 at Eastwood, Hill will retire, effective July 31.
“None of those reasons have anything to do with my coaching staff or our athletes,” Hill said. “Those two reasons alone made this one of the hardest decisions I have had to make and have helped to make this profession one of the most enjoyable and rewarding anyone could have hoped for.”
Hill sent a letter to district residents, stating “it will be time for me to step away from this dream of a lifetime profession.” He promised that “this does not change how I do things or what I do” in his final months in his position.
“I have mixed emotions as I write this not because of a hesitation to retire but because of all of the tremendous experiences and people that I have had the honor to be involved with,” Hill said. “I leave my position with great pride and confidence in all of the great things that I felt were accomplished in my years and that they mirrored the culture of what Eastwood is all about.
“I took great care in making sure that I always represented Eastwood with class and character and that our teams, athletes, and coaches did the same. I can proudly say that I believe that is one of our strongest characteristics.”
Hill believes he will be leaving the Eastwood athletic programs in a good place.
“I am not the type of person that will just ride out the last six months of my career,” Hill stated. “I can assure you I will attack it in the ways I always have with energy, enthusiasm, and passion until July 31.
Hill came to Eastwood in a roundabout way. Originally from Toledo, where he graduated from Start High School in 1975, he earned three varsity letters in football and three in baseball.
Hill got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo in Education, specializing in grades 7-12 health and physical education. He got his master’s degree in educational administration from Bowling Green State University in December 2002.
Hill started his coaching career in 1977 as varsity assistant football coach at Start and continued until 1981. He was also was junior varsity baseball coach at Toledo Macomber High School in 1983.
At Mapleton High School, Hill was assistant football coach for 25 years, head girls basketball coach for 12 years from 1986-98, and head baseball coach from 1983-98.
He was appointed dean of students and athletic director at Mapleton in the fall of 1999, and became high school principal in the fall of 2002.
Hill arrived at Eastwood in fall 2006 as principal, serving until June 2013. He moved to assistant principal and assistant athletic director in fall 2013 and became the director of athletics for Eastwood in fall 2015.
“I always wanted to be a teacher and coach as long as I could remember,” Hill said. “I was very fortunate to have some very influential teachers and coaches as I grew up and learned the parallels in life to athletics and wanted to be able to have that influence in others’ lives.”
Hill said Eastwood represents the pinnacle of his career.
“I have also been blessed to be able to work with such great people in which we all shared the same values and culture and always wanted the best for kids,” Hill said.