OGDEN — When Sara Hill married her husband, Jay, she thought she was marrying a soon to be surgeon. Little did she know how different her life would be.
“I didn’t marry a football coach, I married a soon to be doctor,” Sara said with a smile. “He went to the University of Utah for the med program, did all his pre-med and after working as an orderly and talking to people who were doctors, they convinced him that if you want to see your family, a doctor isn’t for you.”
Growing up, Jay didn’t have much of an interest in being a coach. It wasn’t until he was out of the NFL for a year that he decided it was time to go back to school. Hill knew the best way to possibly pay for it was to be a grad assistant and that’s where his love for coaching started.
The recently named FCS regional Coach of the Year has learned from coaches like Ron McBride, Urban Meyer, and Kyle Whittingham. While Hill soaked up all the knowledge he could from those three, it was the knowledge that “this is about the players” as something he values the most.
“It’s all about the players and if you take care of them, then they usually go out there and perform well on game day,” Hill said. “You got to recruit good people, both as coaches and players. Discipline, toughness, that’s what this game is all about. There’s all kinds of lessons along the way, but those are the things that you really hang your hat on.”
The players he’s recruited describe Hill as someone who is accountable, good at observing, and someone who lives his life the right way on and off the football field.
“When he sees something going on with the team, he makes sure to correct it, when he sees something going on on the field, he makes sure to see it correct it and move on,” senior linebacker Auston Tesch said. “I think his ability to do that has spoken out since he’s been here. There were a lot of things going wrong when he first got here, and just his ability to see that and know how to correct it, it speaks for itself.”
Senior Jonah Williams added, “the players are accountable and the coaches you can see that their accountable to coach Hill, too. No one gets away with anything that’s unfair or undisciplined. Everyone is out to compete every day and there is a sense of accountability that I think floats around the program, and it forces everyone to be competitive. If you’re playing better than the guy in front of you, you’ll play in this program, so I’d just say accountability is the one trait that makes this program successful.”
The success of the program that Hill has helped build is just what he envisioned for himself when he got the call to be the Wildcats next head football coach. But there is still more that he wants to do, and that’s win a national championship.
“You want to coach at the highest level of where you’re at and that’s what it would take,” Hill said.
The Wildcats host Montana in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs on Friday night at 8 p.m. at Stewart Stadium.