Jim DiMatteo grew up in Walnut Creek, California about 25 miles east of San Francisco. He attended Cal Berkeley for college from 1981-1985, which was where he was first exposed to the sport of rugby. As a high school football, soccer and track athlete, he quickly found that those skills translated to rugby and earned him a spot as the team’s scrumhalf. From there, he helped lead the team to three National Collegiate Titles. Jim continued playing rugby after Cal for many years in San Diego with OMBAC and the Old Aztecs. He was selected numerous years on the United States Combined Services (All-Military) and All-Navy Rugby National Teams. He played in over 30 international matches throughout the world representing the United States and US Military.
After graduating from Cal, Jim embarked on an unprecedented 27-year career as a U.S. Naval Aviator, flying the F/A-18, F-16, F-14 among other fighters. He was named the Commanding Officer of both TOPGUN Adversary Squadrons, a first in Naval Aviation history. After retiring as a Captain, he continued his passion for competition and aviation by running the Red Bull Air Races for 14 years as the Race Director. He was the Director and flew with the Breitling Jet Team on a 2-year American Tour in addition to running the largest airshow in the world, Oshkosh AirVenture for 3 years. Today, Jim still flies the F-5 Advanced Tiger for Tactical Air Support, which is the TOPGUN defense contractor that provides the Adversary Air for dogfight training for the US Navy and USAF frontline fighter pilots. In addition to Jim having accumulated more TOPGUN Adversary flight time than anyone in history, his biggest accomplishment was being inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2018 for his lifetime achievements in aviation. Some additional accolades include the F-14 Fighter Pilot of the Year, the US Navy Adversary Pilot of the Year, the TOP HOOK for best landings on an aircraft carrier and the esteemed Britannia Award recipient from the United Kingdom which named him the top tactical fighter pilot in the U.S. training command.
Looking back on his fighter pilot career, Jim cites the lessons he learned on the rugby pitch and with his rugby teams as some of the biggest influences on both his personal and professional life. When his son, Nico, turned 8, Jim re-engaged with the Rugby community and started coaching youth rugby with OMBAC. For the past 10 years he has been involved with youth rugby, coaching and assisting as needed. Jim feels it is his obligation to give back, with both time and money, so that other young men can benefit from the incredible experiences that the sport of rugby has provided him. In addition to joining the US Rugby Foundation Board as a Governor, Jim is on the Advisory Board for Cal Rugby and has created the CAPT James P DiMatteo Scrumhalf Endowment for the University of California Athletics Department.