Tuesday’s morning Bulloch County Commissioners meeting saw something a little unusual: a standing room only crowd.
However this was no ordinary meeting at the North Main Annex. Tuesday saw two of Bulloch County’s finer sports accomplishments honored with proclamations by the Commissioners: the 2016-17 Bulloch Academy wrestling team and Statesboro High School head basketball coach Lee Hill.
A proclamation, in the words of the chairman Roy Thompson, is a certificate of appreciation by the county to recognize specific achievements by individuals or teams. And it’s not often someone from the realm of sports is given a proclamation by the county. According to Thompson only four other figures in his 13 years on the Commissioners Board have received such an honor.
“I hope they know what just happened to them,” Thompson said. “It’s an honor. It’s not just about the kids here, it’s about the pride they’ve brought to Bulloch County.”
Both the BA wrestling team and Hill were honored with framed certificates in front of a room that according to Thompson was “triple” the normal attendance of a regular meeting. Both Hill and the BA grapplers got standing ovations from the room upon receiving their certificates.
Of anyone who deserved to be honored in Bulloch County sports this season, it seemed all too appropriate that Hill and BA Wrestling were the two to be recognized. On Feb. 11 Bulloch Academy did something no other school in the GISA has ever been able to accomplish when they won their third consecutive state title by a whopping 155.5 point margin.
The entire team — headlined by seniors GC Kimbrell, Tyce Lovett and Garrett Williams — was in attendance along with head coach Andy Tomlin to receive their certificate. As Thompson stood in the middle of the room and rattled off the seemingly mile-long list of accomplishments made by Tomlin’s squad, the head coach still couldn’t believe how well the county has received his squad.
“All I could sit there and think to myself is ‘Holy cow I can’t believe we’ve accomplished this much’,” Tomlin said. “The level of recognition we’ve received from the rest of the county has been awesome.”
But without a doubt the most touching moment of the morning came right before BA was given their proclamation. Thompson introduced Hill to the room with these exact words:
“...There’s been a lot of basketball on this week… And if you’ve watched you’ve seen a lot of great coaches… well we have one right here in Bulloch County and his name is Mr. 800.”
On December 28, 2016 Hill reached a milestone only eclipsed by a handful of coaches in the history of Georgia High School basketball. Statesboro’s 73-68 win over Glenn Hills gave Hill his 800th career win, merely two days after the court his team plays on was dedicated in his name.
As Thompson read the text on Hill’s proclamation certificate, he had to pause as his voice quivered in the sheer emotion as he said “Y’all are about to find out how much I respect that man right there.”
Hill, a man who doesn’t pride himself on being in the spotlight, was overcome with gratitude upon hearing what his certificate said. It was icing on the cake on what had been another successful basketball season for Hill, whose team won the region championship for the 15th time in his near 40 year career.
“You know normally I get uncomfortable around these kinds of things, but it doesn’t change the fact of how appreciative I am of these honors,” Hill said. “Those guys didn’t have to do any of that. It was truly an honor.”
Thompson added that after living in Bulloch County his entire life, giving this kind of honor to coach Hill was especially surreal for him.
“Mention the name of coach Hill throughout the state of Georgia, people recognize him as not only one of the great coaches but one of the great men in high school basketball,” Thompson said.
The BA wrestlers and Hill are the first sports figures to receive a proclamation since the BA girls basketball team won consecutive state championships in 2015.