2012 Illman Award
On June 1st, 2013 Malta Boat club was pleased to present the Doctor George Morton Illman Award to Jay Hill, for his contributions to the sport of rowing.
James Hill, (better known a “J”) began his rowing career in 1962 at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia. After rowing under Coaches Tibor McCann and Joe Brennan, J graduated and continued his rowing career at St. Joseph’s College. In 1969, J was awarded an English Speaking Union scholarship to study in England; that was the beginning of his long-standing connection with Caius College, Cambridge and its boat club. Although J did not participate in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race he did find time to row and punt on the River Cam.
After a tour of duty in the US Navy specializing in Russian Language Intelligence, J resumed his rowing career in 1985 at the urging of his friend Paul Laskow. In 1992, a fellow University Barge Club member, Christopher Blackwall encouraged J to consider becoming a US Rowing Judge/Referee.
During J’s Referee apprenticeship, he studied under two very colorful characters on the Schuylkill River, Matt Ledwith and Mike Bergen. It was after J passed his Referee Exam in 1994 that he began a nearly 20 year contribution to rowing, both on and off the water that continues today.
J is best recognized by his Pith Helmut, bow tie and “GQ” attire as he serves as Referee on the water. J has been the Chief Referee for the Philadelphia Scholastic Regattas in the spring and can be seen most weekends officiating at Ivy Leagues, Collegiate, Scholastic and Cub Regattas throughout the rowing season.
Unbeknown to most, J is a generous benefactor to rowing off the water. He supports his Alma Maters’ boat clubs, The Philadelphia Catholic League and aspiring Olympic hopefuls among others.
Throughout his rowing activities J has been supported by Pam, his wife of 37 years and his children, Peter and Emily.
J’s greatest joy of rowing is to row his single, before dawn, on the Schuylkill. He also enjoys the opportunity to meet many of the fine coaches along Boat House Row, like Fred Duling and the young athletes training for spots on the US National and International teams.