Rick Hill '91, B.A. English, History
He came for the great weather and Mexican food but stayed for the "top notch liberal arts education."
"I'm a testament to the value of a liberal arts education," says St. Louis native Rick Hill proudly. Having no specific career path in mind when he entered Trinity, Rick decided to major in English and history "so I could keep my options open." A few education classes and a semester-long practicum at Lee High School convinced him to pivot from teaching toward communications.
An upper-level English class with professor Willis Salomon left an indelible mark. "My 10 classmates were all on track for Ph.D.s in English, while I just wanted to not embarrass myself," he says. "Dr. Salomon pushed everyone hard and my success in that class was a real confidence builder. To this day, I don't think I've ever been in a room with a smarter group of people." Another professor, the late Don Everett "epitomized what made Trinity so special then and still differentiates the University today," Rick notes. "Not only do you have access to professors, but you have ones that sincerely care about you, your future, and your education."
Although Rick "fell into sports" with his first job out of college, he says, "To make a career in sports, you have to be committed to taking the long view." Indeed, Rick paid his dues. One of his toughest seasons was a job with the minor league San Antonio Missions baseball team that included stints cleaning restrooms, working concession stands, and even sleeping in the locker room. Happily, that led to six "unforgettable years" managing community programs for the San Antonio Spurs.
From the Spurs, Rick joined the Valero Alamo Bowl in 1999 as its first director of marketing. Since 2003, Rick has served as vice president for marketing and communications. He works with an experienced staff that develops a season-long calendar of events and a digital portfolio that capitalizes on both the passion of college football fans as well as the goodwill the bowl receives for delivering such a positive economic impact to San Antonio. He is proud of the fact that the Valero Alamo Bowl has grown from the "new kid on the block" to the number one game outside of College Football Playoff bowls.
Iconic bowl performances from Drew Brees, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III, and Marcus Mariota, along with the national attention that accompanied Mack Brown's last game at Texas and TCU's record comeback last year, have fueled the bowl's ascendance. "We've been fortunate with some buzz-worthy storylines, but we have also made our own luck by raising our stature so that high profile match-ups are more routine," he explains.
Rick's favorite part of Bowl Week is the staff's nightly walk between the Alamodome and the four different hotels that house visiting teams, alumni, media, and sponsors. "Only in San Antonio are you able to provide that level of personal interaction to so many different constituents in such an efficient manner," he says.
Equally high on San Antonio, Rick says one of the most rewarding parts of his job at the Valero Alamo Bowl is getting to show off the Alamo City to the 40,000 visitors who come to town for the game and the seven million who watch it on ESPN. "San Antonio is in a golden age," he exclaims, "and I'm proud to lend a hand to help make what is so good about our community even better." Toward that end, he actively supports Trinity, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and Centro, an organization that strives to build a vibrant downtown.
When Rick isn't busy with Valero Alamo Bowl activities, he is often forced into "emergency handyman duties" for the several rental properties that he and his wife own. "Originally, this was out of my wheelhouse," he admits, "but after a couple of successful repairs, I told my kids 'when you pair Google with a Trinity education you can do anything.' Now whenever we have a family problem, they tell me 'Just Google it, Mr. Trinity.'"
This fall Rick will celebrate his 25th class reunion and is looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends, especially his old baseball teammates, with whom he won a championship. Grinning, he predicts, "They are going to be blown away by all the positive developments that both Trinity and San Antonio have made."