NAPPANEE — Rachele Hill has spent the past three years as the NorthWood High School athletics secretary. She’s been at the school since 1997, working various positions throughout the Wa-Nee School District. She’s been involved with the athletic department in some capacity since 2005, though, when Athletic Director Norm Sellers was hired.
More importantly, Hill is a family friend to Sellers. Their friendship has never been more apparent than in the past two years.
DE FACTO AD
Norm’s wife, Kim, has been battling cancer since October 2018. The Sellers family has had to make several visits to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, as Kim goes there for surgeries and checkups.
This has left Norm away for his office for extended periods of time, reaching up to six weeks in the fall of 2019. Hill has been there to carry the workload at the office while Sellers has been tending to his wife.
“I thought my role was to cover for him so he would be free to be where he needed to be, which is taking care of Kim and his family,” Hill said. “And because I’ve been at NorthWood so long, you just roll with the punches. You have to go with the flow; what you don’t know, you figure out.”
Hill did admit, though, that the six weeks she became the de facto AD was more stressful than most times at her job.
“It was very hectic because I didn’t have Norm to rely on,” Hill said. “What’s fortunate is that I’ve been helping in the athletic department so long that I know so many things and how to handle them. It was very busy, but Norm was always available if I needed him, and of course I had other administrators in the office that I could go to.”
Sellers said the work Hill has done while he’s been away is immeasurable.
“The biggest thing I can say about Rachele is that I can trust her,” Sellers said. “I trust that Rachele is always going to make a good decision, but I also trust her that if she doesn’t know the answer, she’s either going to find out or she’s going to get ahold of me. … I can trust her with running the athletic department when I’m not there, and you can’t put a value on that.”
Sellers hasn’t had to miss as much time since the fall. He won’t forget what Hill did for his family during those six weeks, though, and how much it reinforced the friendship the two already have.
“Her friendship, to me, has been invaluable,” Sellers said. “I’ve had a lot of people help me through what Kim and I are going through, and when this first happened, Rachele came to me and said, ‘Norm, I got this. I can take care of this for you.’”
EMBRACING HER ROLE
Hill is more than comfortable with taking a back seat at her position. She knows her job is to help the people around her do their jobs better, rather than make all the headline-making moves.
“They have very busy schedules, and so I kind of have to fill in the gaps,” Hill said. “I have to be flexible and do whatever is needed at any moment of the day.”
Being able to work with great coaches and Norm has also been a plus, in Hill’s eyes.
“It helps that we’re all a great team; Norm is wonderful to work for,” Hill said. “If I have any questions, I just go to Norm and can get the answer. I’m available to him to take care of things in the office that he wouldn’t already have to worry about.”
Hill started working in the school district once her children started going to school. All of her kids graduated from NorthWood High School.
Even with all of her kids done with high school, Hill has remained working at the school. Even though the spotlight isn’t shined on her that much with her job, she’s proud of the work she does on a daily basis.
“I think it’s very important that you’re not the type of person who wants to seek recognition. I know that sounds kind of odd, but that’s not what the role is,” Hill said. “The position is to work behind the scenes, and you working behind the scenes helps the athletic department function. And you do get the satisfaction knowing you took part in that.
“Do you get recognition? No, probably not for the most part. But once you understand that’s your role, you’re happy to do what you do.”