HOMETOWN HEROES: Nick Hill carries on the family Little League tradition

The Minor league Orioles team, which includes Nick Hill’s son Spencer, after they won t

The Minor league Orioles team, which includes Nick Hill’s son Spencer, after they won t —COURTESY PHOTO

Nick Hill teaches a defensive stance.

Nick Hill teaches a defensive stance. COURTESY PHOTO

Nick Hill teaches Libby Mercier how to throw.

Nick Hill teaches Libby Mercier how to throw. —COURTESY PHOTO

Nick Hill with Gage Minckler.

Nick Hill with Gage Minckler. —COURTESY PHOTO

The Mt. Monadnock Little League 10U team that won the Matty Dobens tournament in Manchester, (front) Gabe Matson, Dylan Hatton, Spencer Hill, Porter Krook, Cooper Aho, Gage Minkler, (middle) Mason Blouin, Jackson Jones, William Sallila, Bryson Somero, Landon Ayotte, Lincoln Landry, (back) coaches Ross Blouin, Derek Cote, Nate Hatton and Nick Hill.

The Mt. Monadnock Little League 10U team that won the Matty Dobens tournament in Manchester, (front) Gabe Matson, Dylan Hatton, Spencer Hill, Porter Krook, Cooper Aho, Gage Minkler, (middle) Mason Blouin, Jackson Jones, William Sallila, Bryson Somero, Landon Ayotte, Lincoln Landry, (back) coaches Ross Blouin, Derek Cote, Nate Hatton and Nick Hill. COURTESY PHOTO

Players from the 2022 Challenger division and their buddies.

Players from the 2022 Challenger division and their buddies. COURTESY PHOTO

Nick Hill coaching the Maddy Dobens all-star team after their championship win.

Nick Hill coaching the Maddy Dobens all-star team after their championship win. COURTESY PHOTO

Nick Hill with his son Spencer.

Nick Hill with his son Spencer. —COURTESY PHOTO

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 11-27-2023 9:32 AM

Modified: 12-01-2023 9:55 AM


A passion for Little League runs in Nick Hill’s family.

“My dad (Dick) started the Little League in Jaffrey when he was a junior in high school,” said Hill. “I look up to him. He’s my role model.”

Hill, a 46-year-old Jaffrey resident, started coaching at age 22, right after graduating from college.

“I love coaching,” he said. “I love teaching fundamentals and the game and how to have fun with it.”

After joining the board of Mt. Monadnock Little League, Hill served as umpire coordinator and then as vice president before taking over as president in 2021. In 2023, the program had 435 youths, its highest amount ever.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I get chills talking about it. We’ve got phenomenal coaches.”

Hill’s dedication to the Little League is the reason why he is the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s Hometown Hero for November. The nomination was anonymous, but board member Gwenna Ketola called him a “huge part” of local youth sports programs – baseball, basketball and soccer.

“Nick’s motto always is ‘it’s about the kids,’” she stated. “He is compassionate about every child getting a chance to play! He puts in countless hours to help improve all our sports!”

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Mt. Monadnock Little League’s divisions include T-ball for 4- to 6-year-olds, Rookies for ages 6 to 8, Minors for ages 8 to 10 and Majors for ages 10 to 12. In 2022, the league added a Juniors division for ages 13 and 14, expanding it to a Senior division for ages 13 to 16 this year. The league also has a Challenger program, which is an adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges ages 4 to 21. Older youths serve as “buddies” to help the Challenger players.

The Challenger program started in 2022 with 10 players, which increased to 15 in 2023. Hill started the program because his now 12-year-old son Mason has a disability, and while he had played in the lower divisions, Hill was starting to be concerned about his safety.

“He loves baseball. I wanted something for him to be able to play baseball, and this affords him that opportunity. It’s a phenomenal program,” he said. “He loves it. He looks forward to it. It’s the highlight of my week to see these kids laugh and smile.”

Mt. Monadnock Little League’s fields include Legion Field and Community Field in Jaffrey, the lower field in New Ipswich, Greenville Legion Field and Greenville Elementary School. This year, the league encompassed New Ipswich, Peterborough, Jaffrey, Rindge, Greenville and Mason, but for 2024, it will be adding Sharon, Temple, Wilton, Winchendon, Lyndeborough, Greenfield, Hancock, Bennington, Antrim and Francestown.

Hill said the expansion is to provide more chances to play Little League instead of Cal Ripken Baseball, which serves ages 4 to 12, and to build better all-star teams that can compete against the larger towns in District 1 such as Derry, Goffstown, Bedford, Nashua, Salem and Manchester.

“We’re affording the kids an opportunity to play,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

Between league duties and coaching Mason and his 9-year-old brother Spencer, Hill said he is at the ballpark five to six nights a week. He said the biggest challenge is the behind-the-scenes commitment – including phone calls, answering questions, helping direct people and helping new coaches – for a league where registration opens in January and the season runs from April to July, although July is mostly all-stars. After a break in August, play resumes with fall ball in September and October.

“That wasn’t around when I played,” Hill said of fall ball.

In addition to the geographic expansion, 2024 is shaping up to be a big year for another reason. Mt. Monadnock Little League will host the District 1 semifinals and finals in the 10U, 11U and 12U divisions, followed by the state finals in the same divisions matching up the winners from Districts 1 and 2.

Hill said it’s an honor to host, but he’s starting to feel the magnitude of the responsibility.

“It’s a hefty involvement, “ he said. “Fortunately, I have a very good board.”

In 2022, Hill started a fundraiser to help improve the fields, which so far has raised $133,000 out of the $150,000 goal. To donate, send checks payable to Mount Monadnock Baseball, P.O. Box 196, Jaffrey, NH 03452.

Despite the commitment, Hill wants to stay involved as long as possible, including seeing his sons through the program.

“I want to be involved and partake and coach and do whatever I can,” he said.

Each month, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript will recognize one of our region’s many Hometown Heroes. Nominate a Hometown Hero at ledgertranscript.com/SpecialPages/Hometown-Heroes.