In November of 1999, new Odessa Jackalopes' Coach Don McKee made defenseman Scott Hillman one of his first player acquisitions. Three years later, Hillman has continued to impress both on and off the ice, and has today been named the Central Hockey League's Man of the Year for the 2001/2002 season. The award is "presented annually to the CHL player adjudged to have best exemplified strong leadership qualities on and off the ice, while making significant and noteworthy humanitarian contributions to his community."
While on-ice accomplishments are not a chief factor when determining this award recipient, team captain Hillman has enjoyed an outstanding season for the Jackalopes. He has played in all 60 Odessa game this season, and has recorded 13 goals, 29 assists and a team-leading plus/minus total of +24. He also represented the Jackalopes at the Central Hockey League's 2002 All-Star Game on February 1st, and is one of five finalists for the CHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman award.
More importantly, Hillman's dedication to his adopted community led to his selection as CHL Man of the Year. One of the most visible members of the Jackalopes in the community, Hillman makes regular visits to sick and injured children at Permian Basin hospitals, and volunteers with local are Youth Hockey practices, helping kids develop their skills. School appearances are also a major part of Hillman's community involvement, sharing the sport of hockey with area schoolchildren. His friendly demeanor and sincerity when dealing with students make Hillman one of the most well-received and popular Jackalopes. Recently, Hillman was named the winner of the team's "Community Involvement Award", and will receive his CHL honor at an upcoming home playoff game. This season, Hillman made a concerted effort to become more involved in the community, and Scott and his fiancée Abbey organized "Miracles on Ice", a Skate-A-Thon to raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network. Scott and Abbey actively recruited skaters, volunteers, and sponsors to donate funds, food and prizes. Over 150 participants took place in the event, which raised over $12,000.00 for the Children's Miracle Network.
Personally, Hillman has also been working to complete his Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology, and has maintained a 4.0 grade point average at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin. Following the completion of is hockey career, the LaSalle, Ontario native will be attending the University of Massachusetts to pursue his PhD in Sport Biomechanics. CHL President Brad Treliving congratulated Hillman on his award, noting, "Scott Hillman is most deserving of this honor, and his accomplishments and dedication to his community are nothing short of exceptional. He sets an extremely high standard for all CHL athletes, and exemplifies the attributes of a true professional." Odessa Coach Don McKee echoed Treliving's thoughts, stating, "Scott is a dynamic individual who is a tremendous asset to our organization. His willingness to lend both his time and effort has had an extremely positive impact on both the Jackalopes and our community."
Additional Central Hockey League awards to be announced in the coming days include the Rookie of the Year (03/13), the Most Outstanding Defenseman (03/14), the Scott Brower (Most Outstanding Goaltender) Memorial Trophy (03/15), the CHL Coach of the Year (03/18) and the CHL Most Valuable Player (03/19). The CHL Scoring Champion will be determined following the completion of all eight games played on Sunday, March 17th, the last day of the CHL regular season.