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Hillman’s personality helps build girls’ cross country into powerhouse

By Lynsey Kunert

Standing on the field with the autumn breeze into his brown hair, Chad Hillman couldn’t keep his smile hidden. His grin was wide and his hands rose to the air as the Batavia cross country girls’ got out another great start in one of the team’s last race of the season. Senior Julia Bobosky’s blonde hair was tied in braids and she smiled at her teammates who crossed the line with her.

“Running cross country is not the easiest sport to do,” Bobosky said, “but with Hillman being the coach, it makes it 100 times better!”

Throughout the last 20 years of coaching cross country and track, Coach Hillman has been at Batavia High School working with his team and classes.

“The best part is the constant expectation of myself to be better than I was the day before to help the student-athletes be better than they were the day before,” Hillman said.

Before coaching, Hillman grew up playing sports year round including cross country, basketball, track, and baseball. For some individuals, doing all of these sports can be difficult.

“Being a part of these sports with different team dynamics provided a unique perspective as an athlete and fostered a passion for being able to teach others the mental, emotional and physical elements of sports,” Hillman said.

All from high school through college, Hillman was committed to being active and finding out what he really wanted to do for his future and that was being a coach and teacher. The thought of leading a class and teaching them the basic fitnesses, or to at least help a person show growth in gym was always an empowering feeling for him, he said. It was a stronger feeling when it came to cross country.

The cross country team has been successful since Hillman began coaching. The last twenty years of visiting State Meets and accomplishing once in the top ten was a great success to him. All of the girls had pasta parties every time before a meet and they went out to breakfast to Lume’s like tradition.

“Hillman’s very supportive to all the girls on the team and really cares about everyone individually, not just the varsity girls,” said Grace Borchert, a graduate who used to run on the cross country team.

When crossing the finish line, it can sometimes feel like there’s no more air escaping a person’s lungs. The adrenaline surging through their body is ecstatic and sometimes they can forget their surroundings.

“Hillman is a great coach for being there for us when he needs us the most, especially when crossing the finish line,” said Dani Padilla, a graduate from Batavia High School.

“He knows how to train and organize a team, and that’s what I like about him,” said Daphne Kolody, another graduate.

Many runners from the cross country team continue to visit meets anytime they can including Padilla.  

“He is always there throughout your race cheering you on,” Padilla said.

Whenever a Batavia runner is in a race, it’s always important to be with them on the sidelines and that is exactly what Hillman does.

Although there is always success in the coaching career, there can also be some downfalls.

“There are difficulties every single day.  It’s impossible to point one out. The difficulties of coaching are all part of the process of being the best we can be,” Hillman said.

Whether it’s the days where it pours down rain or when it’s a chilly temperature, the team fights through it. No matter if there is mud splashing all over their legs during an advanced workout, Hillman believes that every new day is another push to success.

“Hillman is a great coach. He knows what it takes to be a good leader and he pushes each one of us girls on the team,” Bobosky said. “He knows all of our abilities and tells us what we should do or what we should not do.”

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