Wilson Tobs head coach Bryan Hill laughs off the idea of personal praise. "I've heard a couple people talk about 200 wins. You're either old or a really good coach," Hill joked. The skipper in Wilson tallied his 200th Coastal Plain League win on July 18, 2019 as the Tobs defeated the Martinsville Mustangs 10-3.
"I feel honored to have been able to be around enough to make it to 200 wins," he said. Hill has been in the Coastal Plain League for seven seasons, dating back to 2012. He began the 2012 season in Wilson as a pitching coach before getting promoted to head coach halfway through the year. He spent 2013 through 2016 with the Edenton Steamers before returning to the Tobs in 2018.
Thursday night's win ended unceremoniously. A contest in which Wilson had exploded for four runs in the fourth and six runs in the fifth before lightening halted and eventually ended the game finished with no streamers or celebratory cake, even though it marked the teams sixth straight win.
"[We] didn't really realize it until after the game that it was 200 but that's still cool," assistant coach Harry Markotay remembered. Markotay played under Hill at Chowan University where he batted .405 his senior year before stepping into a coaching roll in 2019. He also joined the Tobs as a coach, right by Hill's side in 2019. "I'm very happy to be coaching under him. I was happy to play under him. He's a great coach and can do great things from here on out."
"[He] probably taught me that the biggest thing in life is hard work," Tobs utility player Nick Rose explained. "Coming into Choawn I wasn't the biggest in school. I didn't like school, but he taught me how to work hard and put my head into things and it's gotten me here." Rose played under Hill at Chowan University and mentioned it was big factor in his decision to play with Wilson during the 2019 summer.
Summer collegiate ball is unlike a typical collegiate season. A team is given the opportunity to focus essentially just on improving their game, which also presents a unique opportunity for a coach to become even more of a guiding figure in a ballplayer's life.
Tobs' outfielder Marquise Lanier also played collegiately under Hill for three seasons at Chowan. When the opportunity to play independent professional baseball didn't work out for Lanier, Hill was there for him and gave him the opportunity to play with Wilson for a second stint. "It meant a lot. You know, he always told me keep my head up no matter what. And just to keep going and just keep grinding," Lanier reminisced as he was clearly humbled and thankful.
"Any way I can shape and form futures of younger players, that's kind of what I'm into," Hill explains. "Be a better person every day on and off the field. You know, baseball and the game of life are pretty synonymous when you think about the ups and downs and different things happen. And each day is a new day just like a new at-bats a new at-bat, each pitch is a different pitch… and not really dwelling on the past but learning from it so you don't do it again. You can go on and on and on how it kind of works together with daily life."