SLIDELL — Two graduates of Pope John Paul II Catholic High School were the first recipients of the Matthew Hilker Scholarship. Recipients must be a student of a Slidell or Pearl River area school, a high school senior acknowledging that soccer played an integral part in their life, and grades to show their ability to do well at the college level.
The recipients were Alexis Tymkiw, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Doug Tymkiw of Slidell, and Lonnie Dutreix IV, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Dutreix III of Slidell.
Tymkiw played soccer for nine years. As a defender, she contributed to the Lady Jags’ District Championships in her junior and senior years. The team advanced to the quarterfinal round of play this year.
Tymkiw carried a 4.3 GPA and is a Graduate of Distinction at PJP. In addition to the Hilker Scholarship, she accepted scholarship offers to the University of Southern Mississippi where she will study Communications.
Had it not been for a severe injury while trying out for football in 2009, Dutreix may have never seen a soccer field at PJP. After months of rehab, Dutreix found his passion for soccer. Working his way onto the team his junior year, he played sweeper, stopper, left-mid and forward.
Dutreix was elected co-captain in his senior year, leading the team into a playoff berth. He carried a 3.9 GPA and was an honor graduate. In addition to the Hilker Award, he accepted scholarship offers and will attend Ole Miss in the fall, pursuing a degree in Chemistry, with a Pre-Med concentration.
Jay Hilker, Matthew’s father, was on hand to present the award to the two graduates.
“Matthew was a positive influence on many,” he said. “He saw soccer as an avenue to help others. Through coaching, he knew that if you helped someone excel in something and they had fun doing it, that person changed, their self confidence improved; and that confidence would carry over into other areas of life.”
Matthew Hilker was an avid soccer player, coach and mentor in the Slidell Community most of his life. His vision was to make the Slidell – Pearl River area the “soccer capital of Louisiana.” He played soccer for 17 years, refereed for three years, and after turning 18, Matthew coached eight different teams to successful seasons, including the first ever District Championship for Pearl River High School in the 2010-2011 season.
Tragically, Matthew Hilker passed away on Aug. 20, 2011, at the age of 21 in a motorcycle accident. Also lossed in the accident was Hilker’s good friend, Jamie Barry. To honor Matthew’s memory, the Hilker family decided to set up the scholarship.
A Facebook page has been set up in his honor at “RIP Matthew J Hilker.”
Donations to the scholarship fund can be made at any Resource Bank location. On June 14, the Gause Blvd. location of Chick-Fil-A will host a fundraiser to benefit the Matthew Hilker Scholarship Fund from 5 to 9 p.m. Anyone wishing to donate to this cause is asked to drop their receipt in the designated buckets.