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Hillman is Hills’ man

Josh Hillman did more than groom golf courses during his time in Pittsfield as Berkshire Hills Country Club’s head pro.

For the past four years, Hillman was also grooming his replacement, someone he knows quite well. In fact, they may spend some time together on the holidays. Cousin Mike Hillman was recently promoted from assistant to head pro when Josh Hillman announced he was taking the same position at nearby Williamstown’s Taconic Golf Club.

The 28-year-old Greenfield native has always been around a golf course. Now gets a chance at his dream job.

“I’m very excited,” Hillman said. “It’s definitely the next step in my career. I’m a little nervous, too, but that just comes with the position. Josh did a great job of coaching me into this position.”

As a local student, he helped lead the Greenfield High School golf team to a state championship during the spring of 2003, placing second individually in the state that season. He left the area following his high school graduation that year to attend Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., where he earned a degree in business administration with a concentration in professional golf management. The program is accredited by the PGA of America, and prepares students to becoming Class A Professionals.

Upon graduating, Hillman moved to New Durham, N.H., where he worked as second assistant at Lake Winnipesaukee Golf Club for one season. That winter, Hillman to Florida, where he was working as an assistant at Wanderers Club Golf Course in Wellington, where he received a phone call from his cousin Josh, who informed him there was an opening at Berkshire Hills if he wanted it. Mike jumped at the opportunity and has served as the assistant there for the past four summers, going back to Florida every winter to work at Wanderers. He said that working under his cousin was the perfect situation and helped him groom him for his current job.

“It was nice working for a family member,” Mike said. “Josh knew the position at Taconic was going to open up and that the opportunity might present itself for him to move on, so he went through the right steps to prepare me.”

Hillman said that the new position will mean he has a lot more responsibility. He said his cousin did a great job while in the position and that he merely wants to continue building on it.

“Obviously, Josh did a lot of great things. He set the bar really high,” Mike said. “I just want to continue that and keep the club moving forward.”

Josh said that his cousin is the perfect man for the job.

“It’s a very easy transition,” he explained. “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Mike was the man for the job. He’s got the skill set and he is the same age I was when I started there. Mike’s going to do a great job.”

Berkshire Hills is a private golf course that Mike called “a hidden western Mass. gem.” According to Hillman, the course was designed in 1926 by A.W. Tillinghast, the state’s only Tillinghast course. Tillinghast is a famous golf-course designer that also designed Bethpage Black Course on Long Island, N.Y., which has hosted the U.S. Open and is among the most famous U.S. courses.

Josh Hillman, meanwhile, becomes only the fourth head pro in the 117-year Taconic history. The 35-year-old, who lives in Williamstown with his wife Angie and their 3-year-old son Jacob, had served as assistant pro at the course in 2006 & 07. He will also begin coaching the Williams College men’s golf team this spring after serving as assistant coach the past two years.

“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Mike said. “That really says something about him. I think Berkshire Hills served as a great stepping stone for him.”

Josh said the position is where he plans to spend the next 30 years.

“It’s a dream job of mine,” he explained. “There’s a fantastic attitude around town and people are already saying that the Hillmans are forming a monopoly on the head-pro jobs in the hilltowns.

As for Mike, he believes Berkshire Hills is the perfect fit and said it could be the last place he ever works. It was the course he was named to work at.

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The final two area baseball coaching positions have been filled. Pioneer Valley Regional School will go with Scott Minckler, who has been around the program for the past few years now. Minckler coached at the middle-school level for three seasons (with a one-year break built in), then coached the junior varsity program last season under former head coach Tom Conway, who left due to conflicts with his full-time job. Minckler will have his hands full in his first season, as the Panthers will be without seven or eight starters. What should help is that Minckler has coached many of the players he inherits at younger levels.

“This is a very nice spot to step into,” Minckler said on Monday. “It’s tough to replace that many starters, but it just means that there are a lot of spots for players to play for. I think the kids are ready to go, and I know I am.”

Frontier, meanwhile, decided to go with Chuck Holt, who will take over an Aaron Campbell-coached team for the second time in his life. The Northampton High School graduate most recently took over the coaching duties for Teddy Bear Pools of the Tri-County League summer league, where he had served as a player-coach for one season. He now gets his first varsity coaching job at Frontier, which should compete for the Hampshire League title with all the players coming back from the team that earned a WMass finals berth last season.

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Finally, if you have been paying any recent attention to the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, you may have noticed a name that formerly graced the pages of The Recorder. Center Alex Killorn played at Deerfield Academy during the winters of 2006-07 and 07-08 before graduating and moving on to play for Harvard University. Killorn scored 46 goals and added 41 assists in his two years in Cambridge (according to online information), and has been playing alongside superstar Steven Stamkos on Tampa Bay. The Nova Scotia native has four goals and four assists in 15 games this season, and he sniped his third-career goal on March 2 with a pretty power-play tally against the Boston Bruins.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com.

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