Sam Hill walked onto the court of the 1982 OFSAA provincial championships for Jarvis Collegiate Institute and walked away empty handed as the Eastern Commerce Saints captured the gold. Now 28 years later, Sam continues to watch the Saints, cheering for his son Jake, a 17-year-old shooting guard at Eastern.
Sam Hill’s father was born in Indiana, played high school basketball in Indianapolis and at college in Ohio. He played in high school at Jarvis and later for the University of Toronto. His four children (aged 19, 17, 14 and 12) are all a part of Toronto programs. The Hills are a self-proclaimed “basketball family” with a great history and love for the game.
“We have a real basketball culture in our family,” Hill said.
Hill had the benefit of learning the game at a young age and brought that with him when he came to Canada from New York as a child. In a hockey-dominated society, he said he can remember the day that he found his sport.
“It’s funny; my friends played hockey when I was up here (Canada) in grade six. I knew guys that played triple A and I couldn’t even come close to them,” he said. “One day I picked up a basketball and in gym class I was better than all the other guys … This is my sport and I really like it.”
His lifetime involvement with secondary school athletics transcended down into each game of this tournament. Jake Hill and even some of his teammates take full advantage of his attendance at the province-wide tourney, being held at Oshawa’s Durham College.
“I think a lot of the guys respect him as well,” Jake said. “He knows what he’s doing, he’s around, he tells the guys advice and stuff.”
From breaking down NCAA games and players, to an annual March Madness pool ending with an engraved trophy, the Hills continue to stress basketball’s place in their lives and still manage to enjoy the sport they love.
“My wife is an athlete as well and we would just tell them (our children) how important sport is and how much fun it is,” he said.
“We’re not going to the NBA and we’re not doing this and that, but we had a great time in university … You can set yourself apart from being a normal kid.”
Hill says all of his children work hard to succeed in their athletics and with a track-star mom, university-basketball-alumni dad and two sons and daughters immersed in high-level basketball programs, the Hills bring a new meaning to the word tradition.