Throwback Video Thursday: Chip Hilleary
Aug. 25, 2011
Chip Hilleary (Football, 1989-92)
Chip Hilleary was a standout quarterback at KU from 1989-1992. Hilleary came to Lawrence from the Buckeye State and quickly made an impact, being named the starter his sophomore year. During his four seasons under center, No. 18 catapulted to as high as fifth on the school’s all-time passing list, completing 53 percent of the passes he threw for 4,598 yards and 25-touchdowns. Hilleary is currently the president and CEO of Central Ohio Graphics in Columbus, which specializes in marketing and printing services.
It has been almost 20-years since you played football at KU, is it hard to believe all that time has passed since you last threw a football for the Jayhawks?
“Wow, to be honest I have not thought of it that way. There have been a lot of days in between then and now. I have a 13-year old and an 11-year old now and they are playing, so when I start thinking about it, I cannot believe how time just flies like that. The players before you always try and tell you about time going that quickly and that you have to enjoy every day, but when you look back and realize it has almost been 20 years, it definitely makes you think about it.”
What was the difference between your first two years at KU (1989-90), when the team finished with under .500 records, and your last two seasons here (1991-92), when the team complied winning records?
“A lot of uphill runs on 15th street and a lot of jogs back from the stadium. But really just believing in Coach (Glenn) Mason, who got into our head that this could be a program where you could be successful. That helped, as well as knocking off some teams that we had not beaten in years, so we really became a player (on the national scene), by the time I was a senior.”
What did it mean to you to be able to lead Kansas to a victory in the Aloha Bowl during your senior season at KU?
“It was very rewarding because my teammates and I went through a lot of adversity during our time here. We went from being named the second worst team in the nation next to K-State my freshman year, to being at one point the 11th ranked team in the country, my senior year. It was just an extremely rewarding experience to get a to play in front of 20-million people on national TV. It also was a great way to cap off a very fun career with a bunch of really good guys who are friends and family to me even to this day.”
Do you still keep in touch with your teammates from your playing days here?
“There are about a dozen guys that I keep in touch with and about four to five that I see annually. We had a unique class and when you work together and sweat together, you become family so quick. You have to lean on each other through the difficult times, physically and emotionally. Social media also makes it so much easier now a days to keep in touch with those that I don’t see every year, but in general I try to reach out to someone who is in a town or region that I am in or traveling through.”
Speaking of traveling… how often do you travel back to Lawrence?
“My family and I try to get back at least every other year. We get to Kansas City probably once a year and see a game, whether it is basketball or football every couple years. We also try to travel with the Jayhawks and I took the family to the Orange Bowl a few years ago. Really anytime they go to a bowl game, there is peer pressure for me to try and get to the game, so we try to use that as a reunion.”
You have become quite the entrepreneur since you closed the book on your football career, explain a little bit about the company you own and operate back in Ohio.
“We have a marketing communications company based out of Columbus and it recently went from being a family business with myself and my mother, to a partnership with another two gentlemen from the Columbus market. About two months ago they bought the shares from my mom’s half of the business and we merged the two companies together to become one of the larger marketing communications/commercial mail and print companies in the Midwest.”
“Right now we have about 110 employees and each year it is evolving and expanding, especially with how fast technology is coming at us. Our business is constantly moving and not standing still, but it has definitely has been rewarding because I look at all the people I have met in my 20 years of business and every once in a while I come across a Jayhawk one way or another.”
Is there any mindset or type of work ethic you take from your football career and apply it to your career as a business owner?
“Most definitely there is. I always use the terminology that you are either a chief or an Indian. Because of that I like hiring former athletes or military personnel because I learned from my first employer that they are competitive and structured people and seem to be real organized.”
Punt, Pass & Kick… (Quick questions and even quicker answers)
What was the first piece of Jayhawk paraphernalia you ever owned?
“A silk royal blue winter jacket that said ‘Kansas’ on the front, probably during my senior year of high school”
Favorite Lawrence hangout when you were here…
“One of the places that started around my junior or senior year was a place called ‘Quinton’s’ down on Mass St. They had soup in a bread bowl and it was a great place to grab a sandwich.”
Place on campus you could be found studying…
“Down by Potter Lake under a tree. Not very often did I have a lot of time to myself especially after I got the starting role my sophomore year, but when I did get some time, especially during that three to four week period between spring ball and summer, you could find me under a tree taking a nap or studying.”
Coldest game or practice you ever played in….
“The coldest and most unique game was my junior year against Colorado, when there was an inch of snow on the ground. It was a slushy snow and I can remember Kenny Drayton (WR, 1988-91), catching a pass and just sliding about 10-yards through the slush into the end zone. Then a bunch of students threw snowballs at him from the stands.”
Workout routine that you absolutely dreaded
“Winter conditioning with (current equipment supervisor) Jeff Himes. We would suit up in our “grays”, which were made of cloth material and we wouldn’t wear turf cleats. Instead we would wear Nike’s with almost no padding in them and coach Mason would turn the Anschutz heat up 90 or 95 degrees and make you just sweat it out. As oddly as this may sound, I really miss those days and look back at them quite a bit. Anytime I am having a tough day, I think of all the things that I have done in the past and I have got through, like winter conditioning and I know I can get through another day.”
Complete this sentence. Playing football at KU was….