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Coach Liz Hill and the Lansing Kee Hawks celebrate a homer by 8th-grade cousin, Kendra Cooper.

While the high school softball season is over for Vinton-Shellsburg, one VSHS alum and former All-Wamac player is now preparing for her first appearance at State as a head coach. Adding to the emotion of this moment is the fact that three of the players are the coach’s cousins.

Liz Hill, a 2008 graduate who later went on to set a new home run record at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids, is taking her young Lansing Kee team to the State tournament.

Liz teaches Special Education at North Fayette-Valley schools during the year; during the softball season, she makes the long drive to the Mississippi River town of Lansing in Iowa’s most northeasterly county of Allamakee.

Kee is the high school in the Eastern Allamakee School District, which with around 400 students, is among the smallest districts in Iowa. The softball team plays in Class 1A.

When Hill arrived at Kee, the softball team had been facing difficult times, and Hill had much rebuilding to do. Her teams won just four of 51 games in 2011-12 before finishing above .500 at 15-14 in 2013.

This year, behind the pitching of two of Liz’s cousins, 8th-grader Kendra Cooper and freshman Courtney Cooper, the team is 32-8, with most of its losses coming to teams from much larger districts. Kendra and Courtney also lead the team in home runs. Another Cooper cousin, Ellie, a sophomore, is also among the team’s leaders on offense.

The trip to State is the first for Liz, and the second in school history for Kee.

“The girls see the ball and love to hit,” says the coach, who loves spending time with her team, especially her three cousins.

In 17 of their 32 wins, including the three games in Regional and Sub-State play, the Kee Hawks won by 10 runs or more. They also made school history by winning their conference (Upper Iowa) for the first time ever.

The community has rallied around the team, and this year, the citizens of Lansing helped the team install new sod and bleachers. The members of the team placed the sod and helped screw the benches onto the bleachers; the members of the community did the rest. Home plate is now where left field was.

“They are very proud of their new home field,” says Liz. She and her Hawks take on Lynnville-Sully (34-1) at the State Tournament at 1 p.m. next Tuesday, July 22.

(Special thanks to the Waukon Standard for permission to use their photo of the home run celebration. See a story and more photos from that newspaper HERE.)

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Comments (9)

Congrats, Liz! Best of luck at state!
By: Laurie Hyland on July 17th 1:34pm
Liz, always enjoyed watching you play. Kept an eye on your college career. And now will continue to follow your team. Good job, Coach! And good luck at State.
By: Don Eells on July 17th 8:55pm
Liz, you have always set your goals high and your work ethic was something I admired. But most of all you saw the best in everyone. So proud of you! Good luck at state and have fun.
By: Deb Schirm on July 18th 12:46am
Way to go Liz. Congratulations and Good Luck next week at State.
By: Betty Robertson on July 18th 10:25am
Great job, Coach!
By: Tom Boeckmann on July 18th 12:31pm
Congrats Lizeroo!! While you're there just go ahead and win the whole thing! Proud of you!!
By: Mindy McClintock on July 18th 4:44pm
Congratulations to Liz and her team!
By: Karolynn Roehr on July 18th 9:18pm
Great job, Liz! While reading the paragraph about how the community has rallied behind you and how much time has been put into the diamonds, I thought of your dad. So many times I watched him work his heart out on the Shellsburg diamonds. He volunteered countless hours making those diamonds look incredible. Keep up the great work. Your team is fortunate to have you as their coach and mentor.
By: Shelly Patterson on July 19th 9:32am
A big congratulations for being named "Coach of the Year" in Class 1A for the Northeast Area. What an honor and what an accomplishment in a short period of time.
By: Betty Robertson on July 21st 10:53am

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