Service chief honored for role
with Gator Cricket Club

Dr. Richard Hill

Dr. Richard Hill checks on a patient at the UF Small Animal Hospital Feb. 13.

By Sarah Carey

Dr. Richard Hill, best known to his colleagues at the college and the UF Small Animal Hospital as chief of the small animal medicine service, has another love besides the veterinary profession. Hill’s passion for the game of cricket plays out on turf rather than tile floors and has roots in his childhood passion as a child growing up in England. This passion led Hill to become faculty advisor for the Gator Cricket Club in 2010, a role which will be acknowledge in March by the UF Division of Student Affairs when Hill will be featured in the “faculty advisor spotlight” at the UF Reitz Union.

Photos of Hill and the Gator Cricket Club will be showcased in a large poster in a display case on the Union’s third floor, and will remain on display for the full month of March. The poster will feature information about Hill’s background, research and clinical interests, as well as some of his personal favorites: (Food? “Curry.” “Movie? “The Thin Man.”) For a little more information about Hill and his interest in cricket, we asked him a few additional questions:

VP: How did you learn about the Gator Cricket Club, and why were you interested in becoming involved with it?

RH: The Gator Cricket Club has come and gone over the years. I played against them back in the ’90’s, when the club was last active and before its recent resurgence. I became involved two years ago because the club asked me to be their advisor. I said yes because the students running the club are very enthusiastic, sensible and professional and there is great camaraderie within the group. The members of the Gator club also remind me of when I first came to the US to undertake a residency in Philadelphia. The first week I arrived in Philly, I was lucky to find a cricket club to join, and it rapidly became a home away from home that helped relieve the stress of a very difficult job in a strange country. Most of those who participate in the Gator club are expatriate students, so my hope is that the club can make them feel at home also.

VP: You obviously must have been an avid cricket player at one time. Could you tell us more about your history with the game, your love for the game, why you enjoy playing it and teaching others about it?

RH: I have played cricket since I was 6 years old and continue to play most weekends when my job and the weather allows. I have always enjoyed ball games and cricket has allowed me to continue playing as my body deteriorates over time. The club I play for, the Silver Springs Shores Cricket Club, is located southeast of Ocala and provides a refuge where I can relax and have a beer away from work with people who have nothing to do with veterinary medicine. I have played for Silver Springs Shores club since I came to UF as a graduate student in 1989. The club plays most Sundays and I can usually participate in about half of the games.

Cricket is good exercise, good competition, humbling, sometimes exhilarating, and all in the company of some wonderful friends from all walks of life. I am always enthusiastic to encourage others to share the same benefits.

VP: Perhaps you could share some of the highlights of Gator Cricket Club activities or meets which have been especially meaningful to you?

RH: The thing that pleases me most is the good spirit in which games are played. The competitive highlights have been the club’s successes in the southeast regional intercollegiate tournament (they were runners up in 2010 and winners in 2011), which has enabled them to move on to the national tournament each of the last two years . The current team has some outstanding players and a very good captain so I have high hopes for them in the national competition this spring.

VP: How often does the club meet and is this a pretty significant time commitment for you?

RH: As an advisor, my job is to encourage the officers and members to help them be successful. The members do all the real work. I meet with the officers periodically and am in regular communication with the president. The club has organized a few weekend tournaments, each involving about 100 players in nine or so teams. I have attended the tournaments to encourage the players and have been asked to give out the trophies. I did lend them some gardening equipment to help prepare the turf for one tournament but we are petitioning the Recreational Sports Association to provide some facilities where the team can practice so that I no longer have to lend equipment.

In cricket, the ball is allowed to bounce on the ground after it is delivered by the pitcher before it reaches the batter. The surface of the ground on which the ball pitches has to be well manicured to prevent injury from the bouncing ball and to allow the batter to have any chance of hitting the pitch. The tournaments organized to date here on campus have been played with a softer ball, which means that they can be played on grass that is only modestly manicured. Nevertheless, most competitive cricket is played with a ball at least as hard as a baseball. Currently, there is no place on campus where it is safe to practice with a hard ball, so the club has been playing competitive matches with clubs in the surrounding area to gain experience for the intercollegiate tournaments that are played with a hard ball. Apart from my club near Ocala, there are several cricket clubs in each of the cities in Florida including Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Valdosta, Sarasota, Tampa, Daytona and Miami.

VP: Anything else you’d like to add?

RH: The officers of the club are the heroes! I am just their cheerleader. Anyone interested in being involved should contact myself or the Gator Cricket Club president, Vijay Pappu.

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