SIX NATIONS – Keegan hill, local lacrosse star, son, life partner and father died in a motor vehicle crash in 2011. He was 25 years old at the time. It was a huge shock for not only the Six Nations sporting community, for the community at large as well.
This past weekend Keegan Hill was memorialized again at the Sixth Annual Classic 49’s Slow Pitch Tournament, named after the jersey number he wore.
Parents Greg and Lynn Hill were pleased with everything about the day, from the weather to the competition. Even more so, it was the outward show of love and respect to their son that pleased them the most.
“We are very happy (about this tournament),” said Keegan’s dad. “It really means a lot to see his friends come out.”
Cousin and lifetime friends Cameron Sault, Cody Jamieson, Craig Point and a few others started the tournament the year Hill died and have been keeping it up since. One stipulation of participating in the annual affair, according to Sault is that the teams and players know exactly why they are playing in the memorial tournament. Although the weekend is always about fun and friends, that does not stop the competitive nature of the tourney.
Annually, the Classic 49 Slow Pitch Tournament kicks off the Slow Pitch tournament season.
“The first couple of years we battled the weather,” says Sault. “This year we can’t complain one bit about the great weather we’re getting.
“Keegan was always lacrosse but we used to play ball together and talked about putting a three-pitch team together for fun,” explained Sault. “We never got to do that so we’re doing it now in his name.”
“Keegan was a great man, a great friend, great father and a great son,” he said fighting back tears. “All I wanted to do is bring people together to remember him. It’s tough every year because we were close best growing up.”
Jamieson, also a very close friend, wanted to play again this year but is still nursing a bad wheel and was unable to, but acted as a base umpire with more than a few joking barbs thrown to players as they ran the bases, just to keep things light.
After weeding through all 16 teams, it was the Six Nations Sluggers winning top honours followed by the Oneida Bandits team, a first-year entry, and in third place it was the Carnigans.
Showing the friendly attitude of the participants, when Sault was asked the final score in the championship game between the Bandits and the Sluggers, he said, “a lot to a little, with a wry smile.”
Special awards were given for home runs and best left fielder (a position Keegan played when he played ball). Both winners donated their prizes back to the family and to seven-year-old Connor James Hill, Keegan’s son. The prizes included two very high quality ball gloves, ball hats and other baseball goodies.
After expenses paid, the proceeds of the weekend tournament will go to the Keegan Hill Foundation managed by his parents, for the upbringing of Connor, and to give back to the community.
“After expenses are paid, the money goes to help Connor with education funds or anything he might need growing up and draw from the trust account when needed,” says Jamieson.
“He was such a great guy,” he remembered. “Everybody that knew him loved him. We started this just after he passed away and it is just a way of carrying it on. It’s for a great cause and everybody’s out here having a great time.”
Lynn spoke of how the foundation has used the money gathered in her sons’ name in past years to help the community as well.
“Some money goes to organize and keep this tournament going,” says Lynn. “We donate in Keegan’s name to Six Nations minor sports. The Rebels used to do a golf tournament and we would donate towards the winner in his name, but I think most of the proceeds this year will go towards minor hockey and lacrosse.”
Along with Jamieson and Sault were other profile athletes including Sid Smith and Craig Point, and many other friends, teammates and family.
The family and friends of Keegan Hill want to thank everyone who contributed to great tournament again this year and look forward to next year.