Photo by Nathan Kelly.
0213 Coach Hind Trophy
Head Track Coach Devon Hinds will be presented with the Mike Byrnes Coach of the Year Award.
More than any other message, Coach Devon Hind impresses the importance of willpower on his athletes. And this year, that message of personal strength paid off in multiple ways.
For starters, people often call his track athletes mentally tough, thoughtfully coached and poetically literate. This year, they can also call them state champions.
In addition, on Feb. 5, Hind received news of winning the Mike Byrnes Coach of the Year Award, which will be presented to him at the New Balance Nationals track meet on March 10.
Hind’s normal routine for a big meet is to give his athletes a pep talk about positive thinking five days before the race. He lets the talk sit in their brains as he continues conducting normal practices the rest of the week.
“Track is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical,” Hind said. “When your brain is telling you ‘slow down, dummy,’ you have to push through the pain.”
One of Hind’s unique coaching strategies is through written word. Since he began coaching, he has written out letters to his athletes after meets that cover ways of improving everything from their physical training to completing goals, as well as positive reinforcement to carry with them the rest of their lives.
Rebecca Phillips, a former runner for Hind, still has the notes Hind wrote to her when he was coaching her at Simmons Middle School.
“The letters really showed that he cared for each one of us individually,” Phillips said. “It gave us one-on-one time to improve our running that we wouldn’t have had time for at practice. He still took the time.”
Phillips went on to run for Hoover High and then Furman University. She now coaches track and cross country at Homewood High School and has adopted one of Hind’s coaching strategies for her own athletes.
“Coach Hind would make us read, re-read and recite the two poems, ‘Don’t quit,’ and ‘It’s all in the state of mind,’” Phillips said. “Those two poems are up in my office to this day, and I’ve shared them with my athletes.”
Hind said he has used the two poems as inspiration and mental toughness for his athletes since the beginning of his coaching career.
Hind is humble and soft-spoken, which explains his reaction to winning the Coach of the Year Award. After hearing the news, he said the first thing that came into his head was not excitement, but a little bit of dread for the attention that comes with winning an award like this.
He said he doesn’t deserve all the attention and feels uncomfortable and a little embarrassed with the congratulations he’s received from everyone. The award is a tribute to his coaching staff and school and its athletes and their parents, he said.
“A lot more goes into this award than just my name,” Hind said. “To be honest it’s only partly my award. I’m still very thankful, but in the grand scheme of things, I have more to conquer and it’s not that big of a deal to me.”
Hind said the track meet wasn’t even the most important memory of the weekend.
Sunday after the meet, Hind fed ducks with his grandson at Star Lake. Afterward, they went home and Hind held the child as he fell asleep in his arms.
“Trophies and accolades go away in time, so that’s not what I live for,” Hind said. “It’s experiences like cuddling with my grandson for over an hour on a Sunday that will last with me for the rest of my life.”
Winning is important to Hind, but the benefit he receives from coaching is the lasting impressions he sees in his athletes after they reach a goal they thought was impossible.
“There’s no better feeling than watching someone accomplish something they thought they couldn’t accomplish,” Hind said. “A light bulb goes on after someone reaches a new height that carries on throughout the rest of their lives. That’s why I coach.”
Hind led the Hoover High School indoor track teams to a first place finish for the boys and a second place finish for the girls at the 2013 AHSAA Indoor Track Championship Feb. 2.
Hind, 57, has been coaching track and cross country at Hoover for 10 years, but he said the award was more of a reflection of his team this year than an achievement for his body of work. Since 1978, Hind has coached at Simmons
Middle School, Berry High School and Hoover.
“A member of the award committee was at the state meet,” Hind said. “She saw how well we did and the dramatic finish from Marlon Humphrey. Winning this award had a lot to do with us winning state.”
Humphrey, a junior, had a record setting day at the state meet. His most impactful performance was the anchor leg on Hoover’s 4x400-meter relay, the final event of the meet.
When Humphrey grabbed the baton, he was already 20 meters behind Mountain Brook High School runner Charlie Forbes. Hoover needed to finish higher than Mountain Brook to win the state trophy.
After running in the open 400-meter dash with a record time of 48.11, Humphrey finished his leg in the relay with a time of 47.02 to overcome the 20 meter deficit. The win ultimately gave the Hoover boys’ team enough points to take first place in state.
“I didn’t think Marlon would catch up unless Charlie ran out of gas, but Charlie never slowed down,” Hind said. “Charlie ran a 49.2 and Marlon just found a way to beat him. It really is a testament to his determination and willpower.”