Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
The Springfield Soccer Club owes a debt of gratitude to an early promoter of soccer in Springfield Township, Elwood J. Hill. As a result, an award is given in his name to one player on each team during the fall travel season who best exemplifies the following traits:
Commitment: Attends practices before and during the season.
Dedication: Works hard to improves as a player and attends all games
Respect: Shows respect towards fellow players, coaches and referees
Leadership: Gives maximum effort and offers encouragement to others. Highly regarded as a teammate.
Elwood J. Hill
August 1, 1922 – May 21, 2007
Elwood J. Hill was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 1, 1922. He grew up in the Oxford Circle section and graduated from Frankford High School in 1941. As a young man he was a boy scout and loved sports, especially baseball and football. He was a cheerleader in high school due to a heart murmur that prevented him from playing contact sports. He enlisted in the United States Army on December 7, 1942, leaving a tool and die apprenticeship at the Budd Company to serve in WW II. Because of his mechanical training, he was assigned to the artillery in the 99th Infantry Division. He trained at boot camps in Mississippi and arrived in England in October, 1944. The 99th Division fought in the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944 and in battles in the Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He earned the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, and European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 bronze stars, and the WWII Victory Medal. He was discharged at the rank of Sergeant on January 17, 1946, and returned to his apprenticeship. He attended night school at Temple University for a degree in Mathematics, but because of the demand for car parts and industrial products after WWII, his job required him to work overtime and caused him to miss classes. He stopped attending college after being promoted to a supervisor. He was an avid fan of the Bulldog’s and Temple’s football teams and, of course, the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the summer of 1948 he met Dorothy B. Umpstead on the Wildwood boardwalk at the New Jersey shore. They were married in November 1954 and moved to Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, where they had four children: Dorothy, James, John, and Thomas. He became a Master Mason in 1951 and joined the LuLu Shriner’s in 1954, which helps raise money for the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children. He was a member of the LuLu Shrine Legion of Honor in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. He served as treasurer for the Masonic Blue Lodge from 1968 to 1985 and was a three year trustee from 1985 to 1988. He was President of the Shrine Club of Philadelphia in 1993. During the 1960s he coached for Flourtown/Erdenheim Little League. In the late 1960s, he read that soccer teams were being formed at the Chestnut Hill Father’s Club. Soccer soon became his favorite sport. He signed up his sons, became a coach of one of the teams, and an officer of the Father’s Club. He held practices two nights a week and every Saturday he traveled to games with his sons playing in the newly founded Intercounty Soccer League. He studied the official referee rule books and books on how to coach and teach foot skills. He soon became the Treasurer of the League and served for over 10 years in this role. He was honored with an award from the City of Philadelphia Department of Recreation in 1970. His sons went on to play for Springfield High School under Coach Jack Benson. He continued to attend soccer games long after his sons graduated and followed the boys’ teams for many years.
During this time he also served as Vice President and President of the 99th Infantry Association and over the years served on reunion committees when they were in Philadelphia. He served on the Board of Directors and was President of the Board in 1998 and 1999. Beginning in 1948, he never missed an annual reunion until 2004 when his basement was flooded the day before he was to leave for Mississippi. He also served for over 15 years beginning in 1990 as Deputy Constable of his voting district on election days.
Elwood retired from the Budd Company in 1983 after 41 years of service. He enjoyed gardening, was an avid reader of biographies of President’s, famous Americans, and history. He probably read every book worth reading on the Civil War and World War II. He enjoyed music, especially The Big Bands and classical music. He became an “Ambassador” at Shriner’s Hospital for Children where he gave monthly tours and helped the LuLu Shrine Clowns with their balloons and props when they performed for the kids. He was invited to be a clown, but declined because he was afraid that his 6 ft. 5 in. and 260 pound stature would scare the children! Instead, he would clown around with his grandchildren who started arriving in 1985. He was a proud Grandpop to twelve grandchildren, always talking with them about history, the importance of doing well in school, and of course, soccer. After the death of his wife in 1996, he became a regular at Springfield Soccer Club games cheering on his granddaughter, Cara, who played for the Flames team for 7 years. He could be heard from the sidelines disagreeing with the referees and on a few occasions, caused Coach Jim Robinson to almost get thrown off the field. After a goal was scored, he would always yell, “We want another one!” He served for a brief time on the Board of the Springfield Soccer Club and several years ago they honored his love of the game by naming an award after him. He was very pleased when Springfield High School started a girl’s soccer team and attended almost all of their games from 2003 to 2005 when Cara played for the team. They lost every game of their first season, but he encouraged the players from the sidelines as he knew that it takes a few years to build a program and a team. He was very happy to hear of Jen Tomlinson’s girls’ winning record this past spring.
Through the game of soccer, Elwood met most of the top collegiate coaches and players in Southeastern Pennsylvania during the 1970s and 1980s and counted many professional soccer players and coaches as his friends. For several years in the early 1970s he was a counselor at a soccer camp in New York run by Walter and Eugene Cziowicz who were both professional soccer players and later coaches. Even at the age of 80, he went to the Philadelphia Cricket Club where Mia Hamm and several of the players from the Women’s US Olympic Soccer team had come for an event. He introduced himself and asked for her autograph and proudly showed it to his grandkids. He never missed the World Cup soccer games and taped the last ten years of games.
Two weeks before he passed, Elwood was admitted to Chestnut Hill Hospital. Much to his surprise and delight, the patient sharing his room was his dear, old friend, Dr. Jack Charlton. Dr. Charlton was an All American Athlete at Penn State University in three sports, one being soccer, had played for the 1950 US Olympic Soccer Team, and later coached soccer for Trenton State College. Elwood met him at Chestnut Hill Father’s Club where they coached each other’s sons in soccer. For several years when their kids were small, the week of vacation between Christmas and New Years was museum visiting week and they would pile their families in a station wagon and visit the Franklin Institute, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and the Camden Aquarium. Even in his last weeks, Elwood’s buddy was with him in the hospital and they talked about history and books they had read and of course, soccer.
My father loved to see kids involved in sports probably because he was not allowed to play in his youth due to his health. He believed that children should aspire not only to be good students, but good athletes. He saw both as tickets to scholarships and a way to obtain a college education. He understood the value of team work, being involved in his community, and in organizations dedicated to helping those less fortunate. He would often say that you don’t have to always be the best but you must always do your best.
Elwood J. Hill died peacefully on May 21, 2007, at the age of 84, after battling an aggressive lymphoma.
Thank you to the members of the Springfield Soccer Club for honoring and now memorializing his love of soccer with the Elwood J. Hill Player Award. His family hopes that the Club will continue for many years to come, inspiring our children to have fun and learn good sportsmanship and the value of teamwork to score goals!
Written with love by his daughter, Dottie Morasco December 7, 2007