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Millenials Making a Difference: Ryan Hill

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Ryan Hill: Teacher & Coach

It's no secret that one of society's most important roles is our school teachers.

With the exception of parents, teachers most often have the biggest impact on development as individuals. They mold minds, show what to expect in the real world and serve as respected role models.

For anyone familiar with athletic environments, they also know that there is another role which carries a similar degree of relevance in one's character development - coaches.

There's a certain brother/sisterhood gained after spending countless hours together at late practices, sharing elated cheers and painful tears after wins or losses, and developing the deep camaraderie of being a part of something greater than ourselves.

Coaches, those who stand at the helm of these ships of companionship, ultimately dictate how little or much the players get from being a part of a team.

It's for these reasons that the millennial making a difference who was chosen to cap off the year is Ryan Hill, Mt. Juliet High School teacher and coach.

This writer was fortunate enough to forge a strong friendship with Ryan growing up. He was always the voice of reason and probably the sole reason no one had to call their parents to bail them out of any sort of sticky situations (said half-kidding, but in hindsight is actually more true than should be admitted).

He excelled academically, was a highly-recruited catcher and overall just a well-rounded, respectable individual.

Now, 11 years after graduating, he's impacting the students at MJHS just as he was by those before.

Ryan first became interested in coaching as a result of a freak accident right before college. He earned a scholarship to play baseball at Belmont University, but right before school started was hit by a rogue line drive during batting practice - losing 80 percent of the vision in his right eye.

It was a devastating end to what would have been a promising career.

However, Ryan found another way to stay on the diamond, as his love for the sport never wavered.

After transferring to MTSU, he began helping with Little League teams, eventually realizing his passion and destiny to become a coach.

After graduating with a degree in Business Education, Ryan returned to his roots and took a position at MJHS teaching Economics, ACT Prep and Personal Finance.

As an interesting twist, he deviated from the baseball field and took a head coaching position for the Lady Bear's Soccer Team, where he remained for four years. He then helped coach the women's basketball team for two years, ultimately transitioning back to the diamond as the Bear's assistant baseball coach.

"Being at MJHS is awesome. My mom and wife both teach with me," Hill said. "Mom still teaches business classes, and my wife teaches Algebra 2 and coaches the cheerleading team. I also look up to Mr. (Mel) Brown as a great principal and leader for the school. I truly enjoy coming to work every day.

"My dad also had a big impact on me. He's an accountant for O'Charley's and always stressed the importance of education and trying your hardest in anything you do. Whether winning or losing, he taught me to always do my best, no matter what."

Hill shared a story about Carson McClure, a recent MJ grad who was cut every time he tried out for the baseball team - finally making it his senior year. Hill shared how inspirational it was to watch Carson's work ethic, as he never gave up and was always one of the hardest workers he'd ever coached.

By the end of his senior year, the kid who had been told no the previous three years became one of MJ's starters, making huge contributions to the team.

Ryan's focus on his influences and those who have impacted him is a testament to his unparalleled maturity, humility and genuine appreciation for what's good in life.

That fateful accident would have caused most to resent life's occasional cruelty, but not Ryan. His rock- solid optimism, appreciation for hard work and uncanny ability to see the positive has never faltered.

The entire transcript of the interview with Ryan can be found on the blog

Matt Shao, BA, is a lifelong resident of Mt. Juliet. He graduated from Mt. Juliet High School in 2005 before going on to play baseball and study Economics/Corporate Strategy at Vanderbilt University. After completing his degree in 2009, he began a successful career in the insurance industry. Since 2015, Shao has been pursuing his passion for writing as encouraged by his mother and longtime Wilson County educator Elizabeth Shao. His first book, Continuity, was released in April 2016 and is available on Amazon/Kindle, Apple iBooks, Google Play Store and Barnes& Matt's second installment of the three-book series, Continuity: Coalition, is in the works.

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coach, community, Matt Shao, millennial, Millennials Making a Difference, Mt. Juliet High School, Ryan Hill, teacher
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