Brenda Hill-Gilmore received a welcome fitting of a familiar face as she was introduced as the new girls basketball coach Tuesday at Gainesville High.
Hugs from old friends she knew from her time as a Lady Red Elephants assistant coach and handshakes from new players she's been hired to lead were the order of the day during the ceremony in the school's front lobby.
Hill-Gilmore was just as thrilled with her new job, as shown by the big smile on her face. Her hiring was made official when she was approved at Monday night's Gainesville City Schools board meeting, and she was formally introduced to the program during the ceremony Tuesday.
"It's great to be a Red Elephant," Hill-Gilmore said. "I'm just very fortunate to be in this position to be able to coach at Gainesville High.
"This is where my roots are. I know what the expectations of this program are and can't wait to get started."
Gainesville High principal Chris Mance indicated there were approximately 30 applications for the position that opened when longtime coach Manson Hill announced his retirement.
Out of that field, nine were called in for interviews. Mance received a recommendation on Hill-Gilmore's behalf from Georgia coach Andy Landers, who she served under as an assistant coach from 2002-2007 and helped coach her daughter and Gainesville grad Tasha Humphrey.
"She is a good fit for us and the young ladies in our program," Mance said. "When I talked to coach Landers, he made sure to point out that she is a good coach but an even better person."
Hill-Gilmore grew up in Hall County and graduated from East Hall High in 1982. Her ties to Gainesville High go back to the 1993-94 season when she started helping Hill with coach his post players.
Then she served as an assistant Lady Red Elephants coach from 1998-2002 before going on to take a job with the University of Georgia.
The past four seasons, she was head coach at Winder-Barrow High and compiled a 45-51 record.
As a player, Hill-Gilmore's playing experience is just as vast. After playing at Auburn University for three seasons, she finished her college career at North Georgia in 1987.
Her professional playing career spanned five seasons in Europe with two seasons in both Sweden and Brazil. Her final season was spent in Italy.
"We're all excited she's back at Gainesville," Manson Hill said. "She's a dynamic personality and has great knowledge of this area since she grew up in the community.
"I can't wait to come back and watch her coaching next year."
The former coach Hill is retiring after 22 years at Gainesville and a 35-year career. He won four state titles (1994, 2001, 2003 and 2004) with the Lady Red Elephants.
When Gainesville's new coach received word she landed the job, she paused for a moment of reflection.
"I just gave a sigh of relief, bowed my head and gave thanks to God," Hill-Gilmore said.
Hill-Gilmore describes herself as hard-working and unafraid to express her emotions. Her first order of business is to sit down with returning players to make sure they are playing during the offseason.
She's highly in favor of players getting involved in AAU leagues as well.
Rising senior forward Rebecca Webster says it will naturally be an adjustment hearing a new voice coming from the bench.
Webster has been working with Manson Hill since she was in middle school.
However, she's also excited about the energy that Hill-Gilmore brings to Gainesville's program.
"I like that she's going to be tough and make us work our hardest," Webster said. "She's going to expect the best out of us."