Leading the parade

Concord alumnus Eric Hillman, CEO of Europa Sports, returned to Athens to participate as the Concord University Homecoming Parade Grand Marshall

ATHENS — After the Concord University parade, while overlooking the bonfire festivities, Eric Hillman, CEO of Europa Sports and Concord alumnus, spoke on his life since Concord and how it feels to be back at Concord University again.

Hillman drove in from his home in Charlotte, N.C., to be the grand marshal for the homecoming parade at Concord University and to visit his fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma for their 65th anniversary.

Hillman left soon after the bonfire activities so he could be at home to support his daughter in her competitive cheer competition.

Hillman said, “Family always comes first in my book.”

He sat down on the porch of Sarvay Hall on Concord’s campus to explain how he came to Concord.

Originally from Roanoke, Va., his decision to come to Concord seems to be either fluke or fate. His father suggested going to community college because his father was afraid if he invested in a four-year college and if Eric would fail it would be a lost investment, so he gave Eric $500 in cash to go to community college after graduation.

While he was on a trip to Myrtle Beach with his sister, he met someone who said he was going to Concord College. Hillman’s best friend was already playing football at Concord so he decided to visit the school. After Eric saw the local sights, including Bluestone Dam, Pipestem, and the Campus Beautiful itself, he drove home and told his dad he was going to apply at Concord.

Hillman applied to Concord with a double-blind admission, which means he had to maintain a “C” average by Christmas or he couldn’t stay. He stayed very busy during his tenure at Concord. He was active in his fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma, he was appointed public defender for the Student Government Association, was a tutor in art and started the weight lifting club.

In his final year he carried 27 hours for the semester, when the normal at the time was 18.

“I went to school from 7 in the morning until 9 at night while still balancing my fraternity and being a public defender.”

He gives a lot of credit to his advisor at the time for her immense help and to his time in Sigma Tau Gamma.

He said, “It was the best thing for me because it gave me the tools that I needed.”

The fraternity taught him how to recruit people, conduct formal meetings, how to sell, and how to manage people, all of which he said helped for the rest of his life.

Hillman graduated from Concord in 1983 with a BA in marketing management. When he left Concord he began to work at Piedmont Airlines. It was also during this time he worked at his first gym where he sold sports supplements for extra income.

After Piedmont merged with US Airlines he began working for Vitamin Locker in Charlotte, N.C. This is job is what gave him the inspiration to study sports nutrition.

In 1989 he became partners with Jeff Compton, a local of Princeton, and in June 1990 started Europa Sports, which is now the largest sport supplement distributor in the world.

“Concord is what really launched me,” he said.

Hillman’s philosophy is to always give back. When the university asked for his help with the football locker room he obliged. He said that football was close to his heart and that he was sad that he could not play football while focusing on school and other obligations. When the school asked him to be grand marshal of the homecoming parade he felt it was another way to give back.

This is his 11th time back to campus for homecoming since graduating. However, when he was head of the alumni association for Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity he came back every year to help. He was happy to be back for the 65th anniversary of the chapter.

Currently, Hillman is serving on the board of directors of trustees for the United States Rugby Team as well as the Board of Trustees for Sigma Tau Gamma.

His focus lately is on preparing the U.S. Rugby Team for the next summer Olympics. It is the first time since 1929 that the sport has been included in the world event and America is defending the gold medal from the last win.

— Contact James Blankenship at jamesblankenshipfreelancer@gmail.com

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