It’s only fitting that Brenda Hill-Gilmore’s fondest memory of legendary coach Manson Hill came from inside the film room at Gainesville High.
It was the year 2000, during Hill-Gilmore’s term as Hill’s assistant and daughter Tasha Humphrey’s freshman season with the Lady Red Elephants basketball team. Hill-Gilmore recalled the screen projecting Gainesville’s matchup with Pickens that week, and in a span of 20-plus minutes, Hill continued to identify one flaw.
The loud remarks were directed at Humphrey, who throughout the course of the roll was nowhere to be found on-screen each time Pickens’ leading scorer Katie Fryer found the basket.
The coach shouted: “Well, whose man is this? ... There she goes again, another layup. ... Who’s guarding her?”
Hill-Gilmore said Humphrey, who went on to have a storied career at Gainesville, never had that issue again. It was just one of the many indications of Hill’s stern but effective approach on several playing surfaces.
“He just put the pressure back on the best player, like, you gotta do your job ...It was just one of those moments that stood out,” Hill-Gilmore said.
Hill was tough, blunt, humble and profoundly affected many. And now, he’s a Hall of Famer.
Hill was officially inducted in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Saturday in Dalton, a just reward for the many contributions made as a coach for Gainesville High, Habersham Central, Johnson and South Forsyth.
“He’s just a great person, wants the best for his kids and I think it’s an outstanding honor for him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Hill-Gilmore, who served as Hill’s coaching assistant from 1998-2002. “It just shows how dedicated he is and the expectation he puts on his athletes to excel.”
In 39 years, Hill coached tennis, golf and basketball, and in total won seven state championships with 30 region titles.
He compiled a 452-263 overall record as a basketball coach, with four state titles 10 region titles. In addition, Hill is a four-time GACA state Coach of the Year and a 30-time region Coach of the Year.
The recognition was for a man who influenced many young minds. To a former standout like Humphrey, he was more than a coach. For the last 20 years, Hill was a father figure and another influential presence who held her to a higher standard on and off the basketball court.
“Coach Hill stepped in and filled that void from when I was a small, small child, from when he was working with my mom at Forsyth,” said Humphrey, a four-time AP All-American at the University of Georgia from 2004-08. “What he meant to me in my career and my development as a basketball player and as a human being, I can’t even describe or put into words.”
After catching up with Hill-Gilmore on Friday in Dalton, Hill was accompanied by a large following of family, friends and former colleagues from Gainesville during Saturday’s banquet at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center. The list included wife Mary, Gainesville High football coach Bruce Miller, former Gainesville baseball coach and athletic director Wayne Vickery, former principal Dave Shoemake and Gainesville alum George Groover.
Hill is the third Gainesville coach to receive such a distinction, joining coach Vickery (2010), along with Bobby Gruhn (2008).
Next year, Hill hopes to see his mentor Jerry Davis as the fourth. Davis amassed 700 wins and two state titles in 28 years as the Red Elephants’ boys basketball coach.
“You know, getting to see a lot of the people I’ve been coaching my whole life, that was fantastic. ...It’s been really fun,” Hill said of the ceremony.
Hill-Gilmore believes that moment in the film room was the turning point for her daughter, who went on to lead the Lady Red Elephants to three state titles while under Hill’s watch in the early 2000s and surpassed her mother Brenda as Hall County’s leading scorer. Humphrey was the 11th overall pick by the Detroit Shock in the 2008 WNBA Draft and played center for several different teams in the league, including the Minnesota Lynx, Washington Mystics and San Antonio Silver Stars before her stint in the FIBA Euroleague overseas.
Humphrey was named to the 14-member 2017 SEC Women’s Legends Class in January.
“That’s one thing that really stuck out to me because no matter what accolades I’ve won, like if we won a state championship, none of that really mattered,” Humphrey said. “(Hill’s) goal, his job was to make sure I was getting better every day, both on the court and off the court. That’s what he did, and I will be forever grateful to him for that.”