This is the eighth in series of feature stories on the 2015 inductees into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame.
Michael Hink always has been a leader.
Whether it was on the field or in the class, the 1966 Union High graduate made sure he could help anyone in any way possible.
His help on both sides has named him an induction into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame.
The banquet will be held April 26 at the New Englander banquet facility. The social hour starts at 1:30 p.m., with dinner at 3. Tickets are available at the historical society annex from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays or online at www.lawrencehs.com.
Hink started his athletic career in the Union school district, earning six varsity letters between football and track and field.
As a member of the track and field team, Hink participated in the shot put and discus events, as well as the two-mile run.
Hink also was a two-way starter on the football team in his junior and senior seasons and, as the team’s co-captain, was named to the All-Tri-County team his senior season before heading to Geneva College on a football scholarship.
Hink walked onto the Beaver Falls campus his freshman year, starting as the Golden Tornadoes’ offensive tackle before adding defensive responsibilities midway through his first collegiate campaign.
“I was a starter on offense immediately as a tackle,” Hink said. “About three or four games in, someone got hurt and I was asked if I wanted to give playing both ways a shot. Next thing I knew, that was it for three years.
“(Then-Geneva head coach) Dan Frazier told me they would just concentrate me on defense, which turned out to be a good thing because then I was able to excel even more. No one else at the small college level, at that time, was playing two ways. I was a tired kid at the end of a 60-minute game. I would only have off for kickoff and kickoff returns. When I switched my senior year, I was able to just focus on defense and played a lot better because of it.”
The switch, while it happened under his third head coach in four years, helped Hink earn some hardware, namely a spot on the NAIA All-American honorable mention list as a defensive tackle. Years after his graduation, Hink was named to the Geneva College All-Time Top 100 football team, dating from 1890 to 2001.
Hink, now 66, joined Sears-Roebuck as a credit management trainee following graduation. Yet a call from Ken Yonkee, the then-superintendent at Riverside High, gave him a new opportunity and a new challenge.
“Ken calls and tells me they’re starting a football program and that they could use some young people as a coach,” Hink said. “He asked me if I would be interested in teaching and coaching for us, but I didn’t have my certificate at the time. They worked with me so I could student-teach on the job and I became an assistant for the football team under Tom George.
“For a first-year program, we were 3-5 or 3-6 playing some strong teams like Beaver. We used to get our kids dressed and it would take a minute to get everyone on the field, Beaver would run out and they’d be still running kids out of the locker room at halftime.”
Hink helped build the football program from the ground up, serving as an assistant coach from 1970-75, while also serving as the equipment manager and volunteer track coach.
Coming out with wins, especially against a competitive schedule, wasn’t at the forefront of concerns for Hink and the rest of the Riverside staff.
“I think one of the things I saw was getting kids to believe in themselves and to believe they could play against those perennial powers in Beaver County,” Hink said. “There were just so many teams that we played in Ellwood, Beaver, Freedom, Rochester, New Brighton. Those were all good, quality teams at that time. We had to get our kids up to speed and get them to believe in themselves.”
From there, Hink dived into education, spending 36 years in four different school districts as a superintendent, assistant principal, assistant superintendent and curriculum director, as well as a part-time faculty member at Geneva College, before retiring in 2006.
Hink currently serves as the Union school district superintendent as Mike Ross prepares for the role. He lives in Union Township with his wife, Marilyn. The Hinks have three daughters — Stephanie Bryan, Laura Eve and Erika Jevcak.
TOMORROW: Kerri Myers