Kevin Dillon left Oshawa, Ontario in 1978 to attend Villanova as the Ontario 800 and 1500 meter champion. In March of that year, Dillon finished 8th overall at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country championships in Glasgow, Scotland. While at Villanova, he was part of the 1981 Millrose Games 2-mile relay championship quartet (7:24.9) along with Marcus O'Sullivan, Anthony Tufariello, and John Hunter. Dillon also participated in three NCAA cross country championship meets, and was Villanova's second scorer as a freshman at the 1978 race. As the story below details, Dillon returned to Ontario after graduation from Villanova and eventually found his calling as a high school coach and teacher at his alma mater. Among other accomplishments, Dillon was Matt Hughes' high school coach -- Hughes finished 4th at the Pan Am Juniors as a prep senior and took a scholarship to Louisville. Hughes went on to win the NCAA steeplechase title in 2010.
Dillon teaches athletes to become solid citizens
By Jim Shaw/The Oshawa Express
Kevin Dillon has been a teacher at Paul Dwyer high school for 26 years and counting.
His first love, however, is teaching track and field.
Dillon instructs mathematics, accounting and physical education. Despite his impressive skills with numbers, he's better known as a track and field guru. He is a former two-time Ontario track and field champion. His double triumph occurred in 1978.
“That was 34 years ago and it seems like yesterday,” says Dillon with big smile.
His wins were recorded in the 800 and 1500-meter events at Kingston.
Oshawa born, he started his work career at the General Motors van plant in Scarborough.
“I was just like every other Oshawa kid,” he says, adding he enjoyed accepting a sizeable paycheque.
Kevin Dillon, VU '82But it didn't take long until he tired of the daily grind, fighting traffic to and from the Queen City.
As a youngster he always wanted to be a teacher or a professional athlete.
Back in 1978, he accepted a track scholarship from Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was unheard of, especially for Canada, where hockey is ranked as number one. Universities came knocking after he was declared eighth best in the world for cross-country, competing as a junior in Scotland. Recognition in track is gained with your time rather than the amount of wins.
The Scottish meet experience saw the worst possible conditions, yet he was a gamer performing under pressure. His specialty is the 400, 800 and 1,500-meter. However, his world ranking brought the USA scholarship for this unknown Canuck.
Upon graduation he returned home and continued his relationship with his high school sweetheart Barbara. The couple's first date happened at a Paul Dwyer high school play of Anne of Green Gables. He married Barbara after graduating from teachers’ college.
At first he accepted a teaching position within York region. But then he realized why he departed GM. He decided to approach Dwyer's principal Sister Anne Shank about returning to the school he knew best.
In an Oshawa moment an offer was on the table and he accepted.
Today Barbara and Kevin are blessed with three lovely and successful children, Marcus, 23, Katie, 21 and Eric, 19. Mom was also a high school track ace, being a standout in the same 400, 800 and 1,500-meter events winning for the University of Toronto.
Work ethic is vital in the Dillon household. Kevin feels the tutoring he received from his Dwyer track coach Joe Pender was a blessing for him and his teammates.
Being a track ace requires intensity. For Dillon it takes a special individual to be successful. Now he enjoys cycling on his 20-speed bike, swimming and pickup hockey with his buddies. Like in his hay day, he doesn't allow for any half-measured performances. He's strictly business.
Of course he looking towards retirement. He could end his career within the next five years, he hopes.
Recently, the Dillons purchased accommodations in Naples, Florida.
“I'm getting older,” he says.
But one thing he refuses to do is give up his support and enthusiasm for high school track. He wants to give back to the sport as much as people did for him.
That loyalty he is always passing on to his students, he says.
“Sports isn't everything in life. It does create a strong foundation of becoming a solid adult citizen,” quips Dillon.