Written by Betsy Abraham, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 24 April 2014 09:22
Bob Hilsky left an indelible mark on the face of Hicksville baseball, as well as countless local players. This Saturday, that mark becomes official as the Hicksville High School varsity baseball field is renamed in honor of Coach Bob.
The entire community is invited to this Saturday’s 11 a.m. ceremony, where the Board of Education will dedicate the varsity baseball field as Coach Bob Hilsky Memorial Field to honor Hilsky’s 30 years of coaching baseball. Hilsky also taught in the district elementary schools before retiring in 1995. Hilsky passed away this past January at the age of 75.
Greg Polli knew Hilsky for almost his entire life. Hilsky was his teacher at East Street School, his varsity baseball coach, and a friend to him later on in life.
“He deserves this honor. He’ll be missed, but I’m thrilled his legacy will continue with this field dedicated in his memory,” Polli says.
Polli played on the varsity team from 1979-81, and later went on to play baseball at Hofstra where he was named an All American, and also spent time playing in the minor leagues.
“Coach Hilsky really gave me that confidence,” Polli says. “He was such a motivating guy. He let you believe in yourself and always made you feel you could do things, both as a coach and as a friend later on in life.”
Paul Yanopulos had Hilsky as a coach in 1979-81. He describes Hilsky as “a player’s coach.”
“He was the type of coach who knew all the capabilities of all his players. He had such an understanding of each individual and knew his players inside and out,” Yanopulos said. “He was always willing to give people a chance who may not have been the best. But the way they approached the game and the effort they put in was always important to him.”
According to Yanopulos, Hilsky was not about making it to the championships, but about what each player brought to the game.
“He didn’t consider wins and losses a measurement of success, but whether you gave it you all at the end of the day and your true character came out,” Yanopulos said.
Steve Tomaini taught alongside Hilsky and says he was more than a coworker, but a best friend.
“We taught in the same school for many years and as the years went by, Bob was not only a best friend, but like an older brother that I could always count on,” Tomaini says.
Hilsky’s wife Mary Ellen says the family is “absolutely honored” at the dedication.
“He had a great passion for the sport and loved working with the guys and teaching,” Mary Ellen said. “We are so grateful to Hicksville for this. He was a wonderful guy and never expected anything like this.”
She describes her husband as a caring man who was deeply invested in his players’ lives.
“When he had students going to college, he did all sorts of things to help them, with writing letters and introductions. He was so immersed in that. He really helped many of his boys go to college and was so deeply involved in that process,” she says.
Outside of the athletic world, he was a dad to five daughters, and grandfather to 13 grandchildren. He was married to Mary Ellen for 50 years, and she describes him as a family man.
“His whole life was his family,” Mary Ellen said. “It was all about his family and baseball.”
The Hilsky family is also establishing a scholarship in Bob’s name, which will be presented to its first recipient at the field dedication ceremony. The recipient will receive $500 and also have their name engraved on a plaque that will be displayed at the high school.
The field dedication takes place Saturday, April 26 at 11 a.m. at the varsity baseball fields. Crossroads Restaurant in Hicksville is also hosting a free lunch for alumni and school district members from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.