by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – The legendary varsity boys’ basketball program that Aaron Hill has built and sustained at Hazen Union is a blueprint that many coaches try to follow around the state of Vermont, but he will dip his toes into unknown waters this winter as acting interim Wildcat athletic director.
Hill becomes the fourth A.D. at Hazen Union in less than two years in what has been a tumultuous and emotional time for the athletic program and its student body. Long time A.D. and community supporter John Sperry stepped away in the summer of 2022 after overseeing and growing the athletic programs at Hazen for over 16 years.
Sperry helped mentor his young successor, an energetic Blue Mountain native who was finishing up his degree at Husson University in Jared Cushing. Cushing was an immediate hit, but the unthinkable happened late in his first fall sports season on the job, when we all heard the news that he had taken his own life.
Sperry was there again for the athletic department and the student body to help heal during a very difficult period for everyone. Oluwadare (Olu) Sowunmi was hired during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2022 to become Hazen’s third A.D. in less than a year. Olu was energetic, but raw and Sperry and Hill both helped mentor the young Castleton University graduate. He ingratiated himself with the students and the community and it was a shock to the program once again, when he announced he was taking over A.D. duties at Colchester after just one year on the job at Hazen.
Hill is a logical choice for Hazen given his experience with the program, but he’ll be taking on multiple duties during the busiest time for both the athletic and his own basketball program. Hazen Union Principal Jason Di Giulio stated the following on the school website regarding Hill,
“We are confident that under his guidance, our athletic programs and extracurricular activities will thrive and grow, as basketball has under Coach Hill’s leadership.”
Hill has coached varsity basketball at Hazen Union for over 25 years, capturing an unprecedented six Division III state championships. At some point this coming season, Hill will enter rarified air in the Vermont high school coaching community with his 400th career coaching victory. He has also taught physical education and health at Hazen Union for over 23 years, but he will relinquish those duties this winter.
“I am so excited to be able to be the A.D. at Hazen Union. I have been a part of the Hazen community my entire life and will work my hardest to help give our student athletes and coaches the best experience possible. After so many years of teaching at Hazen I felt like it would be fun to take on another challenge and make a change. We have had three A.D.’s in a little over a year so I felt like I might be able to provide a little more stability to our athletic programs. I love Hazen and especially love Hazen sports so it just made sense to me. It’s great to be a Hazen Wildcat!,” said Hill.