The gift from the University was announced toward the end of the episode along with other donations in late August. The scholarship will be distributed at the Hills’ discretion.
Tim Hill, a former boxer who retired due to work-related back injuries, set up a boxing gym in an old rented space in 1999. Since then, he has been using his own money to finance the gym and its team of 8- to 21-year-old young adults. Hill described his program as a safe haven for the young boxers who lived in impoverished communities with many distractions. His story caught the eye of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” as well as Time Warner and UR. The scholarship currently does not have a name, but the children are referred to as the Geneva Boxers.
The $400,000 for the scholarship was allocated from a greater pool of existing money in the Rochester national grant. If members of the Geneva Boxing Team apply to UR, it is up to the Hills to decide how much of the grant will go toward the child’s financial aid. The grant will serve as a supplement rather than a replacement to the student’s existing financial aid package. Both freshmen and transfer students are eligible.
Last December, the University’s Director of Diversity Enhancement Joseph Latimer coordinated with UR alumnus Anthoney Plonczynski ’06 of the McNair Program, Life Skills Football Camp, Admissions and the Spirit Coordinators to set up a promotional trip to the Geneva Boxers. The group decided to stage an exhibition match with UR mascot Rocky and Geneva star boxer Aleem ‘Hammer” Whitfield. The Geneva Team was then given UR bags, T-shirts, posters and stacks of pizza.
Since a majority of the boxers are not old enough to apply to college, the University has been making an effort to follow the boxers until they are of age. Latimer has been coordinating with the Hills in the effort.
‘We’ve been encouraging the Geneva Boxers to come to our campus and become engaged in some of our programs and events,” Latimer said. ‘We’ve invited them to pre-college workshops and the Nikki Giovanni event, among other things.”
In an effort to keep the young adults focused, the University has been working with Rochester native and former NFL player for the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders Rolland Williams of Life Skills Football Camp.
‘Williams’s role is important,” Latimer said. ‘He speaks with the children about keeping their grades up and staying out of trouble.”
Though the school does not have an existing boxing team, Tim Hill has expressed interest in having a program by the time the Geneva Boxers are old enough to apply to the University.
‘It would be a great way to keep the kids active [in boxing] while they are going to school,” Tim Hill said.
Latimer mentioned that the idea has been floating around since the implementation of the grant. ‘It’s an idea to explore, and if we’re fortunate enough to have them in our applicant pool, it would behoove us to start one,” Latimer said.
Latimer added that the effort would probably have to start at the club level.
‘Rowing was a club sport before turning into a varsity sport,” he said. ‘We can’t just make it a varsity sport. It would have to start at the club-intramural level for us to see how it works out.”
Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011.