Former All-American and national champion goes family first, makes a grand comeback

Published: Monday, July 11 2011 5:30 a.m. MDT

"Growing up in the (LDS) Church, you know that family comes first," said Hill, of the Beaumont Ward, Lexington Kentucky North Stake, while describing herself as the first of her friends to tie the knot. "When I was in college, I wasn't dating just to date and go out and party; my purpose was to find someone to spend forever with. When I got married, I realized it was time to grow up. My right is not the next person’s right, but I knew my time was to focus on things that mattered most."

It was a perspective that Marc, who is currently the assistant to the athletic director at the University of Kentucky, appreciates today and certainly when he first met his wife. As Marc Hill did homework with his then-girlfriend, the former Catholic thought that her Bible was just a bit larger than normal. The ensuing discussions about latter-day scripture and ancient text from lands outside the Middle East was the first step in a new life path for a man who has since served as a bishop in the Bluegrass State.

"It was just fun — he was my Primary student, but he was older than me," Jenny Hill said of the time in which Marc began asking questions. "I just wanted to make sure that he was doing it for the right reasons, not so we'd just have something in common, where even if we broke up, he'd keep doing it for his life."

Jenny Hill only took her husband to church at one of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' local wards one time before she left Tuscon for the summer, a time when Marc Hill's interest in the gospel was validated.

"At one point he called me and said he had just taken part in a missionary discussion," she said with excitement still in her voice. "The missionaries had never had anyone call them, so they thought it was a joke. When Marc showed up for the discussion at the institute building, he called from there and asked if they were still coming."

With both parties having the family raising perspective following their marriage before her senior year, a well-written chapter of each of their lives closed — until Hill's was revisited for a brief time last summer.

"She put herself aside for family and kids first, did what’s supposed to be done, as opposed to others that play forever," Marc Hill said. "I'm not saying that’s bad, but that’s not the plan we are taught. That’s why it was so great for her to play at a world championship level with Team USA."

One call from three-year Arizona teammate Laura Espinoza-Watson was enough to pique Jenny Hill's interest in competing in Venezuela, particularly after receiving some baseball training with Colorado.

"Jenny got the itch again," Espinoza-Watson said. "Both of us miss the camaraderie of playing for a team. It was kind of like a farewell tour for each of us. When we played in the past, it came easy, but now the game was taking a toll on us. We were now battling who we were, where we were at, but were on the same path, competing for a gold medal."

Although the team came short of such a goal, finishing with bronze — not to mention the death of a spectator during one of the games due to a stray bullet, which forced half the tournament to be moved from Venezuela’s capital of Caracas to Maracay and its one stadium hours away — Hill's experience resulted in a variety of emotions that ultimately contributed to a career that Hill said she felt consummated in an appropriate fashion.

"Competitiveness never really goes away, so I was excited to try but scared because it went so long," said Hill, who trained in Orlando and North Carolina with Espinoza-Watson before being accepted onto the squad that actually traveled to Venezuela. "The first day, I didn't know if I'd be able to make it out of bed the next morning, but Heavenly Father helped me take it one day at a time. The adversary wanted me to be discouraged when my body was not cooperating as it needed to."

Her courage and perseverance indicate a trademark characteristic that has moved many individuals in Hill’s life, including a coach who has rings for all but two of his fingers and who has instructed 42 All-Americans.

“As a coach, you look at some highlights in your career, and sometimes you run across people who have made an impact in your life how you hope to make an impact in theirs,” Candrea said. “Jenny is one of those kids. She is a reason why you do what we do. I’ve never worked a day in my life because I have a passion for what I do, which includes the opportunity to meet and coach people like Jenny Dalton Hill.”

Email: rwilkinson@desnews.com

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