Ed Hilton was the architect of modern university sport on Prince Edward Island. From the time he stepped onto the St. Dunstan’s campus as football coach in the fall of 1960, to his retirement as Athletic Director of UPEI in 1991, Hilton was instrumental in establishing the University as the centre of elite Island sport.
Hilton was a master at recruiting athletes who were overlooked by the big programs, those who had a heart far in excess of their physical gifts, and periodically he uncovered a player who had the kind of breathtaking physical skills and emotional makeup to lift a team to unexpected heights. Hilton’s players played with verve and determination, with a camaraderie forged by countless hours of practice together under his stern and demanding leadership.
In 1973–74, Hilton was named AUAA and CIAU football Coach of the Year, as his squad marched through the Atlantic Conference, advancing to the championship game before being beaten by St. Mary’s.
As Athletic Director in the 1980s, Hilton directed a program which saw four different UPEI teams (men’s and women’s basketball, men’s hockey, and men’s soccer) win three AUAA championships apiece—a record of success unmatched before or since. Much beloved by his players, Hilton modelled a commitment to excellence and a passionate advocacy for the less fortunate of society. Many of his athletes entered the service professions upon graduation, using the skills and caring they learned from his example.