Like father, like daughter
Patapsco’s Ashya Hill establishes a family legacy by following in the footsteps of her father Wayne as a McCormick Unsung Hero honoree
Father’s Day was celebrated last Sunday, but for Wayne Hill, a former Unsung Hero honoree, this year it may have actually occurred on May 13th. That was the night of the 79th McCormick Unsung Hero Awards, which Hill attended with his daughter, Ashya Hill, a soccer player at Patapsco High, and her school’s 2019 female Unsung Hero honoree. As a junior at Baltimore City’s Northern High School (the current site of Reginald F. Lewis High School) in 1977, Wayne Hill had a great sense of pride to represent his school as a McCormick Unsung Hero honoree. It was a drop in the bucket, however, compared to the emotions he experienced with his daughter in May. “This time I was happy and proud, times one million,” said Hill. “To be there with her, I was over the top with emotions. I am very proud of her. The first time was good for me and my parents. This time I was able to walk in both pair of shoes (nominee and parent) with pride with my baby girl. “Whooow what a rush. No one in her school knew that I had won the same award 42 years ago. I felt honored to see her hard work being recognized. Ashya said to me, ‘Daddy my hard work is finally paying off, thank you.’” Ashya Hill expressed gratitude for the opportunity to follow in her father’s footsteps. “I’m blessed to even be here and be nominated,” said Ashya Hill. “My dad was an Unsung Hero in 1977 so it runs in the family. I am just happy to be here.” Wayne Hill is single parent who has raised nine children. Ashya, who will go off to Glenville State College (WV) to play college soccer in the fall, and brother Elijah, entering his senior year of high school, are the final two at home.
When Wayne Hill’s head football coach at Northern, Lon Russ, informed him he would be an Unsung Hero by having it read over the morning announcements, he said his “jaw dropped.” “It was like icing on my cake,” he said. “We (Northern High Vikings Football Team) were co-champions for the season. I thought things couldn't get better. “That night being honored with my coaches, team captain and parents, and being taped for TV was great. But meeting and talking to Johnny Unitas (keynote speaker) was over the top. He inspired me to be the best I can be, at whatever I do.” The thought of winning the Charles Perry McCormick College Scholarship Award also opened the possibility to college, but that was not to be. Hill’s mother, who already worked two jobs, promised to take on a third to send him to college, but Hill had other plans. “I was raised by my mom, working two jobs,” said Hill. “She said she would get a third job to help me go to college and I told her no, don't do it. So I started playing semi-pro football with the Baltimore Eagles. Than I took the test and joined The Baltimore City Fire Department. It was a childhood dream. My father was in the Department. I did almost 30 years and retired. I also drove trucks on the side for years.”