Tear-filled eyes aren’t normally part of Molly Hill’s postgame ritual following victories.
But Thursday’s three-set match with Shelby wasn’t just any other win.
On Monday, Hill is scheduled to give birth to her second child, a son. That means that Hill’s sixth season as Polk County’s head volleyball coach will be interrupted as she steps away to care for her newborn.
Thus the emotions that Hill felt while addressing her squad in the locker room following Thursday’s win were many.
“I know I’m coming back, but it pains me to have to miss it,” Hill said. “I’m excited, and I’m so ready to welcome my son.
“But I don’t want the girls to think I’m abandoning them. It’s just tough. I’m trying to stay positive and hopefully I can come back sooner rather than later.”
Hill has been preparing for her time away since finding out she and her husband, Hunter, would add to their family. Assistant coach Jon Ezell will serve as interim head coach with continued help from assistant Christen Smith.
Those two have also been instrumental, Hill said, in helping her through the past few months, which Hill admitted have been tough.
“It’s been really hard,” she said. “I’ve been sick every day, and with my husband getting injured in an accident at work, there’s been a lot on my plate. It’s probably helped me prepare for what’s coming.”
Hill is an active coach during games, on her feet throughout matches, often taking players aside for individual instruction. It’s a style that has helped her win 106 games in her five-plus seasons, the most victories in school history, as well as lead last year’s squad to the state 1A final.
Wive five starters and numerous other players back from that team, expecations are high this season for the Wolverines, and Polk is off to a 6-1 start ahead of Thursday’s match with Enka. Hill, though, has had to modify her coaching style during that start to continue to remain on the sideline.
“I’ve had to take care of myself first,” she said. “I often skip meals during the season, I try to stand whole games. I’ve had to adjust, to only stand when I have to.
“I’m looking forward to getting everything about my body back and being able to coach how I’m used to coaching.”
And, she hopes, to do that sooner rather than later.
“I’ve talked to my doctor, and I’ve got an appointment at three weeks after my son is born,” Hill said. “If everything is going well, they may release me at four weeks to come back and sit and coach.
“At six weeks, when I go for my scheduled checkup, hopefully everything is back to normal.”