By Nick Arthur
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
For as long as she can remember, Amanda Hill has wanted to play collegiate soccer.
Since middle school, Hill had her sights set on attending Notre Dame – that is until she visited Morgantown, West Virginia.
“I fell in love with it,” Hill explained. “It was love at first sight.”
Now a junior midfielder on the nationally ranked West Virginia women’s soccer team, Hill has started every game of her career in the Old Gold and Blue.
But what was it about Morgantown that stole the heart of a young girl from Washington, Pennsylvania?
“Above all, the atmosphere of the team, the family and the chemistry among the team. You feel welcome when you come. It becomes a second home,” Hill said. “The championships they had in the past, and the success they had attracted me from a soccer aspect. Then, visiting here, it was the campus and the people that won me over.”
The championships Hill alluded to are apparent. The Mountaineers have claimed six conference championships over the past four years, including three in their first two seasons in the Big 12 Conference.
But much of the reason for the success on the field has been rapport and solidarity among Hill and her teammates, or as she refers to them, family, off the field.
It begins at the top with 19-year head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
“Coach calls herself Aunt Nikki. She plays that motherly role for all of us. She cares about us deeply. She’s big on character when she recruits players, and I think that finding people who have good character is crucial,” Hill said. “The people she recruits are genuinely good people. Everyone has a similar concept of why they’re here and where they’re going.”
Izzo-Brown, who has never had a losing season as head coach at WVU, was immediately impressed by Hill’s personality when they first crossed paths, knowing right away Hill was everything she looked for in a player.
“What’s so important about Amanda is not only does she lead by example to the point where the staff can trust her with anything, but also the way the team looks at her and responds to her,” Izzo-Brown said. “Amanda walks her way of life a certain way that is respected by her teammates and by the staff.”
The veteran head coach was well aware of what sold Hill to be a Mountaineer. Izzo-Brown explained that the family atmosphere among her team is something that has been present for as long as she can remember.
“With this program, it’s always been about being a family and understanding that there are going to be philosophies coming from the top down that are important. Nobody is undervalued – everybody is valued just like a family,” Izzo-Brown explained. “Amanda Hill fully understands this and reiterates these philosophies.”
The trust between the head coach and midfielder led to Hill serving as a captain this year, marking the first time since 2011 a non-senior earned the honor.
“My position kind of demands communication. Leading by example is a big thing for coach –on and off the field. It’s about getting good grades, working hard on the field and overall commitment,” Hill said. “I think coach sees the passion I have for the game and how important it is to me, and how much I care about my teammates. I want everyone to do well.”
Hill’s care for her teammates began at a young age.
Junior defender Maggie Bedillion, a fellow Washington, Pennsylvania, native, has known Hill since age four. The two played soccer on the same club team growing up and have brought that tight relationship to Morgantown.
“Amanda and I have always been close. We have a weird telepathy on the field – I always know where she’s at,” Bedillion said. “My family loves her, and I love her family. On and off the field, it is a great relationship. I would consider Amanda to be one of my sisters.”
Off the field, Hill has been just as committed. An Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree and a Capital One Academic All-District 2 Women’s Soccer Team member, she has even found a way to assist others via the classroom, helping to train a service dog.
“I took the service dog training class because I love dogs, and I think it’s awesome how they’re able to help people in so many ways. But I had no idea that it would impact my life the way it has,” Hill said. “As much as I love it just because I get to hang out with and train dogs, I also love learning about them in the classroom setting, for it’s truly incredible what dogs are capable of. I have every intention of staying involved with Hearts of Gold Organization here at WVU even after I graduate, and my ultimate goal is to incorporate these dogs into my future work as a physical therapist.”
It’s become apparent that Hill does it all. Her legacy as a Mountaineer is filled with memories.
Most importantly, the kinship and welcoming feeling that first brought Hill to West Virginia is exactly the impact and affect she has had on those around her.“I don’t think Amanda is ever someone you can forget about,” Bedillion said. “I don’t know how someone can’t like her. She’s family.”