A series of features where the Tigers catchup with those who came before and what they have become after graduating from Pacific. Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger
by Zack Bayrouty
Former Pacific cross country standout Jill (Himlan) Deering has never stopped running. She ran herself into shape to make the team as a walk-on her sophomore season. She ran better than anybody in the NCAA Regionals in 2004. She was running in an orchard when she decided she wanted to be a lawyer. And she’s about to run her own company that will feature her own line of running clothes.
The list of accomplishments is long for someone who at various points in her life was unsure what she wanted. A native of Santa Cruz, Deering was not a student athlete her freshman year. In high school she was a track athlete and played volleyball and basketball but none of that carried over into her first year.
“As a freshman I was just trying to figure it all out,” she said. “I missed athletics and I missed being a part of a team. So that summer I went home to Santa Cruz and said, ‘I think I’m going to start running and be on the cross country team.’ My friends kind of laughed and told me I wouldn’t be able to walk on at a D-1 school, but I said I was going to try my hardest.”
Deering started training herself over the summer and when she returned to campus for her sophomore season, she introduced herself to coach Tim Teeter.
“He kind of laughed when I told him I wanted to be part of the team but then said, ‘OK, let’s go for a run.’ We ran down the Miracle Mile and right afterwards he said, ‘Alright, you’re on the team.’ I didn’t realize at the time what a unique situation that was.”
After training herself and making the team as a walk-on, Deering made her first big impression in the 2004 NCAA Regionals where she was Pacific’s top finisher, posting a time of 24:43 in the 6K race. She led the Tigers in two of six races and was second on the team in the remaining four.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I really liked, more than the satisfaction of doing well, being part of a team that was so close. All of us were best friends and spent every minute of every practice together.”
By her senior season she went from walk-on to team captain. Though her role on the team was now defined, she was still uncertain about life after Pacific and remained undecided on a career path. That all changed one day while she happened to be at cross country practice.
“My best friend on the team…her name was Jessica…she actually helped me pick my career path,” said Deering. “We were running one day out in one of the orchards and she told me, ‘why don’t you go to law school? You love to argue, you’re smart…it’d be a good fit.’ I kind of thought about it, studied, took the LSAT’s and was on my way.”
Deering stayed with Pacific and attended the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. She’s now based in Santa Barbara and works as in-house counsel for a myriad of companies while practicing a lot of health care law.
“One of the companies I work for is an athletic training and recovery center in Santa Barbara, and that makes me feel like I’m still connected to athletics.”
Another way Deering stays connected to athletics is through actual competition. Deering participates in road races that vary in distance from 5K’s to marathons. She’s spent a lot of time trying to get the B-standard for the Olympic marathon trials, but unfortunately an injury that she sustained took her out of the running. Deering, though, managed to turn her injury into something positive.
“Because of the injury I started riding a bike last year,” she said. “I started competing in duathlons, and I was actually the National Champion for 2015 in the duathlon long course which was this past November in Fort Worth, Texas.”
Duathlons consist of a running leg, followed by a cycling leg and then another running leg. In addition to duathlons, Deering competes in marathons and in 2013 won the Santa Barbara half marathon.
In addition to competing, Deering, along with a business partner, has started her own line of running clothes called Rabbit. Her first line will be out in the spring of 2016 and available online starting in April at www.runinrabbit.com.
“It’s a really fun endeavor, and it involves me taking my business skills, legal skills and passion for running and combining them all into one awesome experience.”
With her life occupied by sports, business and law, Deering looks back on her time at Pacific as one that laid a foundation for her to incorporate all of those elements into her success.
“(Pacific) is a wonderful university and I can’t really say enough positive things about it. It prepared me on every level to be successful in sports and in my professional life. I would recommend Pacific to every student.”