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Article updated: 10/31/2013 11:10 PM
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For Antioch's Hill, thinking big just comes naturally
 

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For Antioch's Hill, thinking big just comes naturally
  • Antioch standout running back Griffin Hill is one of nine children, which has helped him forge a winning identity with the Sequoits' playoff-bound football team.

    Purchase Photo | Antioch standout running back Griffin Hill is one of nine children, which has helped him forge a winning identity with the Sequoits' playoff-bound football team. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  •  Antioch standout running back Griffin Hill is one of nine children, which has helped him forge a winning identity with the Sequoits' playoff-bound football team.

    Purchase Photo | Antioch standout running back Griffin Hill is one of nine children, which has helped him forge a winning identity with the Sequoits' playoff-bound football team. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 

With calendars on her iPad, her phone and the kitchen refrigerator, Kim Hill is pretty much covered.

It's what she must do to keep track of the daily comings and goings of her nine children.

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"We're a sporty family, and pretty much everyone is involved in something," said 16-year-old Griffin Hill, a sophomore running back for the Antioch football team and one of two high school athletes in the Hill house right now.

"My mom does a great job of getting everyone where they need to go. It all runs like a well-oiled machine."

Hill certainly seems to be a product of his environment.

So far, his high school career is humming right along, producing one high-end result after another.

Hill burst onto the scene last year by scoring 27 touchdowns for Antioch's undefeated freshman football team. That left little doubt he would make the varsity this year as a sophomore.

He quickly settled into a starting role for the Sequoits and has been steadily rolling up the yardage. He's got more than 500 rushing yards this fall and is coming off his best showing yet, a 136-yard, 2-touchdown outburst against Vernon Hills last week.

Meanwhile, Hill maintains a perfect 4.0 grade point average and aspires to study biology at Northwestern someday.

"Grif has a lot of big goals," said Antioch coach Brian Glashagel, whose team could use another big game from Hill on Saturday against undefeated Sycamore in Class 5A first-round playoff action. "I think it's going to be so fun to coach him the next few years and see what happens.

"He's got so much talent in football and he's such a good student. But what I like most about him is that he's such a good kid and so well-liked. He gets along with everyone, the older kids on the team, the younger kids. He's friends with kids in the band. He's a very diverse and well-rounded kid."

Again, a product of his environment.

Hill's family is a study in diversity.

Kim and Howard Hill, who live on a large lot just east of the high school that allows for plenty of room not only for their kids, but also for their 26 chickens, 10 ducks and 3 goats, always wanted a big family. They started with three biological children, Ashley, 25, Casey, 21 and Isaac, 19.

The Hills then adopted six children, 16-year-olds Griffin and Theo, 12-year-old Bailey, 11-year-old Owen, 10-year-old Lucy and 7-year-old Phoeby.

"It's been a wonderful dream come true," Kim Hill said of her family. "We don't really see any of this as being special, we just see it as very normal. We enjoy each other, we are enjoying the process and we love watching everyone grow up and seeing what they turn into."

Griffin says he's pretty sure he was meant to be an athlete because he was born with certain natural talents and instincts, such as speed and great vision. But he's never met his biological parents to know for sure. He was adopted when he was a couple years old. He knows only Kim, a stay-at-home mom, and Howard, an engineer, as his parents.

"I really don't think of myself as being adopted," Hill said. "But I do realize how blessed I am to have been put in a family like this.

"All of us (kids) get along so well, and I've got parents who do such a good job of making everyone feel loved the same and they tell us how much they love us every single day. We're a pretty religious family and I just think that things happen for a reason and we were all put together for a reason."

When the Hills are all together, and right now, seven of the nine kids live at home, organization is key.

Bathroom time in the morning is scheduled in 20-minute intervals. Family dinner conversations (and those happen nearly every night) involve a "round-the-horn" type of format so that everyone gets a chance to talk about his or her day. And if an item of food in the pantry is in someone's crosshairs, that must be made known. In an official capacity.

"With food, it becomes kind of a game," Hill laughed. "You kind of have to reserve stuff. You've got to protect it. I love chips, so I'm always looking out for the chips."

Hill is just as protective of his reputation with his teammates. It's important to him to have their respect and trust. Especially as a sophomore playing varsity.

"I want to portray myself as not just a good player, but a good person, too," Hill said. "My parents are always talking to me about how you still need to be a good person if you have success or ever make it big. You hear about big athletes being jerks all the time, and I don't want that. I give my teammates credit as much as I can. And it was really important to me to make sure it didn't seem like I was coming in as some cocky sophomore.

"I just try to be respectful to everyone and nice to everyone because I want to earn my teammates' trust. That's really important to me."

Nothing trumps family, though. For Hill, his parents and siblings are his very highest priority. For as many friends as he has, he's just as happy to hang out at home, or pile into multiple cars with his parents and siblings to take in a movie.

"I want to have a big family someday because I really like it," Hill said. "People on the outside might think it's crazy, but it's all I know and I think it's been a great experience.

"There's always someone to hang out with at our house and there's always a lot of love being shared."

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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