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Great dads have a lot in common with great coaches. They’re there for the wins and losses, they don’t quit, they don’t yell, and they certainly don’t give up on you. David Hill is a great dad. He’s also a great coach. For him, fatherhood and coaching are a calling — and he has dedicated his life to them, and his kids in the process.
At 56, Hill is still very present in the lives of his daughters Brittany and Kendall, both in their 20s. Whether it’s walking their dogs, helping with yard work, or coaching them through difficult times, he’s there for them, just like he was when he coached their school sports teams (basketball and volleyball). Even in adulthood, he’s their mentor, someone they can ask for advice, someone they feel comfortable around. “There’s just certain people that you feel safe with all the time, and my dad is that person,” says Kendall.
David met his wife Kim in 1980 and they had their first kid in March 1989 right in Modesto, California, the place where he grew up. His parents owned a local grocery store. When he wasn’t working, his father would take him on camping trips, Raiders, and A’s games. As soon as David took up baseball in elementary school, David’s dad was his coach. Later, he’d attend all David’s football and basketball games — something, David says, “meant the world to me.”
So, it’s only natural that David coached his daughters’ softball and soccer teams when they were in elementary school. Middle school came along, and David took to coaching their basketball and track teams, and then high school basketball.
David was a father figure to his kids, sure, but also to the student athletes he coached. Kids who’ve graduated high school at least a half-decade ago still call him for advice. They check in with him to let them know his advice sticks with them. He’s the kind of coach that has been invited to former players’ weddings (he’s also the kind of coach who opens the high school gym the day after the ceremony so all her friends could play basketball).
He never quit being a coach to them, and he definitely didn’t quit once his kids grew up and moved out. In the past few years, he’s been a non-stop dad to his 29-year-old and 26-year-old daughters.
After Kendall — a science teacher with a fiancé and a house she owns — got into a car accident earlier this year, she called her dad first. Kendall and her best friend were on their way to grab a late lunch on spring break when they got hit by two cars on the freeway, pushed into oncoming traffic, and then struck by a semi-truck. David was the first to the scene and, at Kendall’s request, he carried her to the ambulance.
She suffered nerve damage and for about eight weeks after the accident, Kendall couldn’t walk. David never left her side. He drove her to doctor appointments and physical therapy, he’d come over to the house and cook for Kendall and her fiancé. And when Kendall had to take a step back from coaching her middle school’s intramural volleyball team, David stepped in.
“I was just thankful,” she says. “I was thankful that I knew they had a coach that would actually coach them and teach them things and be polite to them.”
In 2017, he trained with his other daughter, Brittany, for the Modesto Marathon. She has a condition that causes her to occasionally pass out without warning. Three weeks before the race, Brittany fainted at work, fell into a pillar, and got seriously injured. She was forced to stay in bed for a few days. But she still decided to run the full marathon on race day.
Going at a slow pace, David stayed with her as they ran. Once she crossed the finish line, Brittany broke down and cried. She accomplished a major goal, and her dad’s support during the race was critical.
“It just shows the type of person he is,” Brittany says. “As much as you butt heads — you know, typical father-daughter conversations sometimes — at the end of the day, he just wants what’s best for me and truly cares. And that speaks volumes.”
As his wife Kim says, “That’s what he does. He puts [the kids] first.”
In five to eight years, David plans to retire and spend more time with his kids. He wants to continue coaching, and, if possible, he’ll keep helping Kendall coach volleyball. It all centers around the kids.
“If you decide you want to have them and you have children, you can have the worst day in the world … and when you walk home and that little person says, ‘Hi, Daddy. I love you,’ everything’s right in the world in an instant,” David says.
Even now, when Brittany and Kendall say “I love you” to him at the end of a phone call, he feels the same way.