Rickey Hill: The coach who tackles the impossible


Coach Rickey Hill looks on at team practice. Hill passed away Sept. 20, 2021 after suffering a heart attack on campus, according to Loyola President Tania Tetlow.

Sofia Mongillo

Wolf Pack dance and cheerleading coach Rickey Hill began his time at Loyola in August 2016, taking on the role of head coach for two NAIA competitive sports.

Before joining the Wolf Pack, Hill began coaching in the early ’90s, where he gained expertise at Virginia Tech and coached there for nearly nine years.

Though Hill never had any formal , Hill was asked to take on coaching the dance team as well.

His coaching brought him to James Madison University, Methodist University and Winthrop University.

After years of coaching college cheerleading and dance, Hill said he took some time off to focus on what mattered to him most.

“Before coming here, I actually took a 3-year break from coaching to concentrate on doing my summer camps and choreography,” Hill said.

Hill said his passion for both sports drives him. According to Hill, however, he wouldn’t be able to do it without assistant coach Tiffany Willis, who helps him in immense ways.

Before Willis took on the job as assistant coach, however, Hill said he never before had any additional help.

“I’m very fortunate that I have such a great assistant coach, [Tiffany] Willis. She has both a cheer and a dance background, but she mainly deals with the dance team,” Hill said. “There’s times where we’ll switch and she’ll deal with cheer, and I’ll deal with dance.”

Despite the time Hill puts into both cheer and dance, Hill said his favorite part of his job is instilling life lessons.

“At the end of the day, after coaching all these years, I still have prior students that I coached in the past say ‘thank you for teaching me more about life than cheerleading,'” Hill said.

Cheerleader Gabi Ruffin said Coach Hill has had a positive impact on her career at Loyola.

According to Ruffin, he has a good eye for potential and can give people a chance when they are up for the challenge.

“Due to personal reasons, I couldn’t base anymore,” Ruffin said. “However, I still really wanted to be part of the team, so I asked if I could try being a flyer, which I have never done before. Coach Hill said, ‘Of course,’ and reminded me that no matter ability, I’d always be a part of the team.”

Flying was hard to get used to at first for Ruffin, but now she’s stepped up to the plate and likes it a lot more than when she was a base in stunts.

“I really appreciate the multiple opportunities [Coach Hill] has given me,” Ruffin said.