The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Aki Hill Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

April 14, 2015


“Coaching with Love”  April 14, 2015  Location: Hill residence, Albany, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Hill describes her family background and upbringing in post-war Japan, making particular note of the educational reforms that led to increased opportunities for girls and young women of her generation. She then recounts her introduction to the sport of basketball, describing the influence of her high school coach and detailing the ways in which the game was taught by Japanese coaches of her era.

From there, Hill recalls an important trip that she made to the United States in 1972, during which time she was granted close access to the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team, as led by head coach John Wooden and All American center Bill Walton. In reflecting on this experience, she emphasizes the impact that Wooden's methods made on the development of her own approach to coaching the game.

The primary focus of the session is Hill's seventeen-year tenure as head women's basketball coach at Oregon State University. Hill shares her memories of her hire at OSU, the state of the program upon her arrival, and early allies who helped her to gain traction. She likewise notes the impact that Carol Menken made as a player at OSU, her approach to recruiting student athletes, the style of play that she emphasized as coach, and the division of labor among her assistants. She discusses her team's successes in the early 1980s, remarks on becoming a U.S. citizen, and touches upon the internal disputes that led to her resignation in 1995.

The interview concludes with Hill's memories of three players, Tanja Kostic, Anette Mollerstrom, and Boky Vidic; her reflections on OSU men's coach Ralph Miller; and the pleasure that she has taken in the more recent successes of women's basketball at OSU.