Main photo: The Huntsville Soccer Club executive committee congratulates Mike Hill (centre) on receiving an Award of Merit from the Huronia District Soccer Association. (From left) Honor Fiorini, Ted Maduri, Dave Caplan, Mike Hill, Louise Azzara, Glen Duffield and Stephanie Nasturzio. Not pictured: Chris Occhiuzzi, Fraser McTurk, Graham Pollington and Jez Bell. (supplied)
Submitted by the Huntsville Soccer Club
What do you get after dedicating countless hours as a youth soccer coach for over two decades?
Well, first off you earn the respect and admiration of your club, your players, their parents and the community at large. And in some cases, a more tangible recognition is received.
Michael Hill—also known as Coach Mike—recently received the Huronia District Soccer Association’s Award of Merit for his many years of exceptional leadership on the pitch for generations of players. He is the first member of the Huntsville Soccer Club to receive the honour.
There are many Huntsville players, from eight-years old to adults, who were taught by Coach Mike how to properly play the game and be a good sport about it.
“He’s really instilled a joy for soccer with all the kids he’s coached,” says Huntsville Soccer Club president Dave Caplan. “We’ve been really lucky to have a person with such passion for soccer be an active member of our club since its beginnings.”
From being the head coach at various age levels for both house league and rep teams, Hill has been coaching an adult women’s team the past few years.
But, it’s not only his coaching which Hill deserves recognition for; he has been stellar player since first learning how to kick a ball. To this day, he’s a fearsome defender who also has an eye for goal.
“Anyone who tried to take on Mike one-on-one or has seen him take a free-kick can attest to his abilities on the pitch,” says the club’s adult coordinator Chris Occhiuzzi.
He’s also done a lot of refereeing and helped along young refs as they learn their craft.
“Mike is very good at helping our young officials by providing mentoring before games, at half time and even after the final whistle has sounded,” says vice president Ted Maduri, also the U13 boys’ rep coach. “You can see them being more confident in making the right calls even when Mike’s not out there with them.”
Not one to toot his own horn, Hill was humble in accepting the honour; he then reminded everyone why it’s important to volunteer in your community—especially in youth sports.
“It wasn’t just me over the years, it was a lot of us coaching and growing the sport,” says Hill. “I’m really touched to be recognized. It’s been my pleasure coaching and watching all these young people grow into fine adults.”
He adds: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and to this day, I’ll run into people I’ve coached who tell me how much fun they had when they were playing on our team. That’s really what it’s all about.”
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