CPSL THIS WEEK: Hillman returning 'home' to play for City
by Kathy Rumleski
London Free Press
A collection of former captains will hit the field for London City this season, in what's being considered by some the best team City manager and coach Harry Gauss has constructed while campaigning in the Canadian Professional Soccer League.
The latest captain to return to the fold is defender Paul Hillman.
A physical education teacher in Toronto, Hillman left City in 1998 to play for the Glen Shields Sun Devils in order to cut down his driving time.
Hillman, who will be married in October, has decided the time is right to again play for his favourite team.
"Games are Fridays in London, so that's not that big of a deal getting back," he said.
"Plus, after being away from friends and family, it's nice to have a summer where I can rekindle old acquaintances. It will give (his fiancee) a chance to see more of my friends and my family."
Those old friends include current City captain Jeff Brown, who'll play in the back with Hillman, midfielder Tonino Commisso, an assistant captain, and former captain Anthony Camacho, the goalkeeper, who returned last season.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Hillman said. "Playing at the Cove is something special."
An emotional guy, Hillman said his heart will be racing in anticipation of stepping on Cove Road field for the first time in six years as a home-team player.
City begins its sixth season in the CPSL next Friday at 8:30 p.m. against the Durham Flames.
"Thinking about it right now sends a chill down my back and my hair is standing on end," Hillman said.
The 32-year-old has garnered a slew of sport and academic awards.
In his first year in the National Soccer League (a forerunner of the CPSL), Hillman was rookie of the year and a first team all-star.
In three years playing for the Western Mustangs, he was a three-time academic all-Canadian, a three-time provincial all-star and twice was named an all-Canadian.
In the year he graduated from Western with a kinesiology degree, Hillman was awarded a purple blanket.
"The biggest accomplishment . . . was the team getting (national) bronze in 1993."
In teachers' college at Western, he won the gold medal as top student in his class.
Sports have afforded him a lot of opportunity and now Hillman helps others experience the great lessons of sport through coaching.
Interestingly, he coaches the cricket team at Central Commerce high school in Toronto.
"When I tell people, they get a bit of a laugh," he said.
Hillman said he'll do his best to help put up more wins in the standings for City.
"They (the fans) have been waiting a long time" for a winning product, he said.
"Anything I can do to get us further along that path, that's why I'm there."
Last year, City finished last in the Western Conference with a 2-10-7 record.
City will play its first six games of the season at home.
City has also been awarded host duties for the second round of the open Canada Cup.
Cove Road field was also the site of the Cup preliminary round.
London AEK Olympic and Woodbridge Azzurri will play on June 27 the game that was rained out last Friday.
London City's first Cup game is June 30 at 7 p.m. against Toronto Peniche.
Peniche defeated the Exeter Centennials in the first round of Cup play.
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