Jason Hills, Byron MacDonald and Dick White
VANCOUVER – Decorated swimming coach Byron MacDonald, reporter Jason Hills, and long-time athletic director Dick White were honoured Monday night at the BLG / U SPORTS Honours Awards Gala for their contributions to university sports in Canada as part of the 2018 U SPORTS Conference and Annual Meeting in Vancouver, B.C.
MacDonald took home the Jean-Marie De Koninck Coaching Excellence Award, while Hills earned the Fred Sgambati Media Award and White was honoured with the Austin-Matthews Award at the awards ceremony, held at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.
Fred Sgambati Media Award: Jason Hills, Postmedia Edmonton
Jason Hills received the Fred Sgambati Media Award, presented to a member of the media in recognition of major contributions to the development and growth of Canadian university sport. Sgambati was a well-respected reporter/broadcaster who was a great supporter of university athletics in Canada. A former University of Toronto athlete and university football official, Sgambati was the radio voice of the Canadian College Bowl (now the Vanier Cup) for its first 13 years.
Since joining the Edmonton Sun in 2007, and the Edmonton Journal following the Postmedia merger in 2016, Hills has provided consistent and excellent coverage of local university athletics, including the University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas and the MacEwan University Griffins. His passion for amateur sports in a market dominated by professional sports is evident in the stories he writes, which always showcase the tremendous accomplishments of student-athletes.
His stories range from features, to series and game previews, to game recaps and tournament coverage, often covering multiple varsity sports teams each week during the season. He has become easily one of the most reliable reporters in Edmonton, providing fantastic coverage while not showing bias towards any team or athlete.
Because of his work ethic and passion, Jason has also developed great working relationships with communicators, coaches, and student-athletes. He has become a favourite of the Golden Bears, Pandas and Griffins coaches and student-athletes, knowing that he will provide the best coverage possible.
One prime example of this came this spring, when he travelled to Halifax for the U SPORTS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship, then to Fredericton the following week for the University Cup Men’s hockey Championship. Jason delivered outstanding stories on both the Golden Bears basketball and hockey programs for the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun. He was also asked to cover the Calgary Dinos basketball and Saskatchewan Huskies hockey teams on short notice, and without hesitation, providing coverage of both programs for the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, and Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
He has also spent a large part of the season covering the MacEwan Griffins, writing a handful of tremendous feature articles on Griffins student-athletes and coaches.
Despite the downsizing of the newspaper industry, Jason has consistently done a superb job at showcasing Canadian student-athletes, and is more than deserving of this award. Jason has consistently advocated for ongoing coverage of university sport in Edmonton, making sure it remains a priority for Postmedia in the market despite the challenges of short staffing and limited freelance resources.
"I'm pleased Jason has been recognized nationally for his great work at capturing intriguing stories of Edmonton's excellent university athletes," said Craig Ellingson, Postmedia's Alberta regional sports editor. "It's great to showcase a variety of sports and personalities from the city's two universities in both the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun thanks to Jason's keen eye for news.