(This is the sixth in a series of nine feature stories on the inductees into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame.)
Athletics always have been an integral part of Mike Tinstman’s life.
It’s why he never truly wanted to leave its side. And it’s why he continues to be involved in anyway possible to this day.
Tinstman, who currently serves as the Laurel High School athletic director, has spent most of his life around various sports. It’s his way of giving back in the way that those that taught him when he was growing up.
“I enjoy giving back, I was fortunate to grow up around a lot of authentic people over my career and in my lifetime,” Tinstman said. “I always wanted to give back and I always wanted to be as helpful as I could be and work as hard as I could. Maybe the results that I wanted weren’t always there, but I just wanted to give my best.
“I enjoyed being around it. It was never a job. It’s something that you do because you enjoy it. You do as much as you can to get the job done right and I’ve always tried to do the job right.”
That passion started during his high school tenure at Erie McDowell and progressed as he became a three-year letter winner for the Geneva College men’s basketball team. His 607 career rebounds is currently 12th in school history.
Tinstman would transition from his role on the court to the bench after his playing career ended, working as an assistant coach for the Golden Tornadoes for two seasons. He would move on to a junior high coaching position at Laurel, making his way up the coaching ladder until he became the Spartans’ boys basketball coach in 1976.
He would continue to coach until 1991, but would return in 2003 and spend nine more seasons as the Spartans’ head coach before leaving in 2012 after trying to balance coaching and his duties as an athletic director, which he started in 2007.
Tinstman also served as an assistant coach at Laurel for football and track, spending three years with the former and 15 years with the latter.
Through various lessons from the likes of Buzz Ridl and Ron Galbreath, along with coaching against some of Lawrence County’s best in John Sampson, Bill McNees and plenty others, Tinstman learned to block the outside noise and do what was best for his players to lead them to prosperity.
“Anybody that has coached or has been around athletics that long, it’s just part of who you are,” Tinstman said. “You make a commitment and you live the game. As a teacher and a coach and an athletic director, I’ve always tried to do the best. I tried to do as much and more to try to be successful.”
While he admitted he would like to return to the coaching ranks, specifically in a volunteer role, his role as the athletic director negates a comeback for the foreseeable future.
“You hate to say never but, with the athletic director position, it’s supposed to be a part-time job but it really is full-time,” Tinstman said. “I’m not complaining, I enjoy it. But there are some long days and week and you really couldn’t do it at another school. If I was not AD and someone needed me to help as a volunteer, maybe I would do that.”
What Tinstman wants most to be remembered about his coaching career is the teach moments that he hopes former players passed on to future generations.
“It’s a joy seeing success for other people and athletes,” Tinstman said. “I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to do something like this throughout my lifetime.”
Tinstman and his wife, Karen, have two children, Michaelyn, 36, and Eric, 33.
MONDAY: Lou Quahliero