Prep Baseball

Family ties make baseball special for Boone Grove trio

2012-05-10T19:00:00Z 2012-05-11T03:49:03Z Family ties make baseball special for Boone Grove trioBy Jim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

No sport bonds sons and fathers like baseball.

At Boone Grove, the paternal connection runs three deep.

Head coach Rollie Thill's son Jared is a senior for the Wolves, Cody Poynter's dad Mike is an assistant, and the same goes for Dean Hill with his father Bryan.

"I think it's always been him coaching me," Dean Hill said. "The only year he didn't was when I played Crown Point Junior Bulldog Football. It was kind of weird. Sometimes, they're a little harder on you, but it's nice to have someone in the family to talk to who knows what they're talking about."

Hill and Poynter have both coached their sons since they were little in a variety of sports.

"I'd probably miss him," Cody said. "I wouldn't have anyone there to talk to."

Bryan Hill joined the varsity staff Dean's freshman year, as did Mike Poynter with Cody after he coached freshman ball for two years.

"The advantage is getting to see your kids close up," Bryan said. "It's the difference between being a coach and a fan."

Both men also coach their sons in football, while Bryan coaches eighth grade basketball and scouts for the high school team.

"We seem to connect the most as father-son, coach-player, with baseball and football," Mike Poynter said. "When I started coaching at Highland, I didn't have kids involved, so I got to see what's important.

"Being athletes is a huge part of who they are...of the educational process. It's their identity, but you can't lose sight of what it's all about. As much as you want them to be good athletes, you want them to be a good person more."

The Thills' situation is different. Rollie vowed not to coach Jared before high school.

"I was a spectator, sitting in the bleachers, watching the game," Rollie said.

Unlike his teammates, Jared has largely been a one-sport athlete, focusing on baseball.

"You never really escape the baseball team," Jared said. "That's not always bad. There are ups and downs, like anything else. We go home and we talk baseball. All the rest of the guys, they may not have anybody else to talk to."

It's not always easy, but Rollie tries to distinguish between the two.

"I try to make a conscious effort to keep the stuff inside the fence here," he said. "That's probably been the most difficult thing."

Inevitably, there are going to be whispers about favoritism in such a situation, but fortunately for all three, there have no been such issues.

"They've made it easy on us," Bryan Hill said. "We're all blessed to have kids who have performed well enough so it was hard for people to say anything."

That said, Bryan believed Dean's experiences, albeit brief, with other coaches, were invaluable.

"He grew up so much with me being there, it helped when nobody knew who he was," Bryan said. "He knew in his mind he was playing because he earned everything."

With sons who are juniors, Hill and Poynter have another season to enjoy the camaraderie. As for the Thills, the clock is ticking.

"I've been appreciative of it," Rollie said. "It's given us an opportunity to talk more than we would have. It happens to everybody, but I'm not looking forward to our last game together."

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