By Cynthia Gellis
A new Olympic Gold medal is now at home in Belmont Heights! Local resident Kim Hill brought the Tokyo gold here this summer for volleyball. A member of the U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball 2021 team, it’s her second Olympic medal after taking Bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Kim Hill grew up in an athletic family in Portland, Oregon. After attending Pepperdine, she went on to play professional volleyball in Europe and as a member of the U.S. National Team. Since the national team practices in Anaheim, Kim’s sister convinced her to give Long Beach a try. She quickly fell in love with everything that Long Beach has to offer and bought her own place in Belmont Heights.
However, Kim was in Italy for the pro season with her club, Imoco Volley Conegliano when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. She chose to stay in Italy on lockdown with her teammates for several months, but quarantine took a big toll on her conditioning. Even though she planned on retiring from volleyball after the 2020 Olympics, it was in some ways a relief when the Tokyo games were postponed and she had extra time to train.
The Olympics were a different experience from any previous tournament. After her 14-hour flight, it took another nine hours to clear customs and COVID testing, but finally, the team could leave the airport. Organizers were very strict about athletes congregating; the cafeteria even had plastic dividers next to each person’s place.
Now home, one of Kim’s favorite things to do in the Heights is to walk around the neighborhood; she loves how cute and quirky it is. Some of her favorite local spots include: the Coffee Cup for breakfast; Wide Eyes, Open Palms on 4th and Cherry for coffee; and the new neighborhood hot-spot, Ubuntu.
That prestigious Gold? For Kim it was an unexpected and very welcome surprise. The team was not a favorite in the tournament, but they kept getting better as it went on. It was as if all the stars aligned to let them peak at the right time. For Kim it still doesn’t feel real, but it was a perfect way to finish her professional volleyball career.
What does her future hold? Kim is ready for a new challenge but for right now she is taking a well-deserved break and some time to figure out her passions outside of volleyball. And to take some nice walks around Belmont Heights.