Classical Grad Chenysse Hill Completes Her First Season As UMass Boston Assistant Coach

Chenysse Hill began playing basketball at the age of 5. She helped her Callahan School team win a Lynn Elementary School Tournament championship in the fifth grade.

At Lynn Classical, she was a two-time NEC All-Star and team MVP for Coach Tom Sawyer’s perennial MIAA Tournament qualifiers. She went on to play college basketball at Plymouth State in New Hampshire, graduating in 2020 with a degree in Business Administration.

And now Chenysse Hill, a member of one of Lynn’s most prominent athletic families, is back in the game as an assistant women’s basketball coach at UMass Boston.

Hill just completed her first on the Beacons’ staff that is led by head coach Heather Jacobs.

Making The Transition From Player To Coach

How did Chenysse Hill land her first college basketball coaching position?

“I’m an assistant coach for the Mass Thundercats, a girls’ AAU program based out of Lynn for grades 8-11. I started coaching under Marvin Avery last summer (2021) and now I am currently coaching under Darius Woumn. Last summer, we went to play in the last tournament of the summer in Washington, D.C., which is where I met with Coach Jacobs. She was preparing for her first season as head coach for women’s basketball at UMass Boston,” said Hill. “We had already been in contact and knew we would both be in D.C. We planned a time to meet and chat over coffee, which is when she offered me the position and we went on from there. Heather previously coached at Division 1 Wagner University.”

Chenysse joined the UMass Boston staff that also included assistant coaches Jennifer Peel, who played college basketball at St. Anselm and Jeffrey Swirka, a graduate of UMass Amherst.

Hill said her first year of coaching college basketball was a productive one and a valuable learning experience.

“As a staff, we learned so much with such a young team that had two seniors, one junior and the rest freshmen and sophomores,” said Hill. “Between all the injuries and games cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19, we still made it out to be a great season. We lost in the second round of the Little East Conference Tournament. It was a fun time coaching in the LEC, which is the same conference that I played in at Plymouth State. To coach against former coaches and teammates and coaching girls I played against –  being on the other side of everything – was just a crazy experience. It’s a drastic change going from college player to college coach, seeing things from a different point of view. I really enjoyed my time at UMass. I learned a ton about coaching and recruiting in such a short time and I do plan to continue my coaching career with UMass Boston for years to come.”

Her Years at Lynn Classical

Hill loved basketball from the moment she stepped on the court.

“I always knew I wanted to continue playing basketball. I never got tired of the game. I always wanted to attend clinics, basketball camps, anything that would help me get better,” said Hill. 

Her four years in the Lynn Classical program were very successful, helping to further her skills and build her in-depth knowledge of the game.

“I was fortunate to play basketball at Classsical for all four years for Coach [Tom] Sawyer,” said Hill. “Helen Ridley was with our team for three of those seasons. Coach Sawyer was the best and still is. He supported me both on and off the floor.  We still have a great relationship today. Coach Sawyer always checks in on his former players to see how they’re doing in their lives. I learned a lot from Coach Sawyer and Coach Ridley, who I consider one of the best female athletes ever in Lynn. These two coaches prepared me well to compete at the college level and it is something I’ll forever be grateful for. I’m very happy I got to experience high school basketball with them as my coaches. They made me into the player and person I am today.”

Sawyer Praises Hill’s Competitive Spirit

Lynn Classical’s Tom Sawyer is very proud of his former All-Star player and captain.

“Chenysse just completed her first year of coaching at UMass Boston and I know she brought to that program the ability to teach basketball skills and tactics. But I’m sure she also imparted her greatest strength, which is her will to win.  In all my years coaching at Lynn Classical she ranks very high in desire to win, desire to compete.  It is what set her apart from her competition. She took that to Plymouth State as a player and now UMass Boston as a coach,” lauded Sawyer.

Chenysse Hill was a recent participant in Sawyer’s annual Classical Alumni Game, demonstrating some of the superior playmaking and long-range shooting skills that have made her a future candidate for the school’s Hall of Fame.

Chenysse’s Brother Begins His College Hoop Career

Chenysse is the daughter of Joan Connolly and Jeff Hill. Her brother, Jeffrey Hill, will be furthering his education and basketball career at Endicott College as a member of the incoming Class of 2026.

Meanwhile, Chenysse is looking forward to continuing her coaching career at UMass Boston and being a college or high school head basketball coach in the future.

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