By KEVIN HARRIS
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Every team has a leader who does anything in his or her power to help it win, whether it is to fire up her teammates or sacrificing his or her body to make a critical play.
For the Floyd Central volleyball team, that person is senior libero Brooke Hinton. Last week, Hinton helped the Class 4A No. 6 Highlanders win their first sectional title since 2009, as they defeated Jennings County in last Saturday’s Class 4A Floyd Central Sectional final in three sets.
“She would run into the wall for us and we know that,” Floyd Central volleyball coach Bart Powell said. “We don’t get a whole lot of kids like that anymore. I wish I could say that about all 14 of [his players] would run into that wall. They might run into the wall, but Brooke might get up and try it again.
“She’s been with me for four years and I tell you what, we’ve gone through a lot of hard times together. If she’s [on her game], you jump on her back and ride her as far as you can. She’s just a great athlete. I love her spirit most of the time. This team wouldn’t be where it is without her leadership.”
Hinton also is a key contributor on the Floyd Central girls’ basketball squad. Last season, she helped the Highlanders post a 12-12 record and reach the championship game of the Class 4A New Albany Sectional. Floyd Central lost to eventual 4A state champion Bedford North Lawrence in the final, 54-34.
One of the people Hinton gets her competitiveness from is one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in Southern Indiana history.
That person is her grandfather, Joe Hinton.
The former boys’ basketball coach at Floyd Central, Providence and Paoli compiled a 594-339 record during his career, which included leading the Highlanders to Final Four appearances in 1971 and 1989. The elder Hinton was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
He also guided the Floyd Central girls’ cross country team to four straight state championships from 1989-1992 and got inducted into the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000.
After Saturday’s sectional championship match, News and Tribune sports writer Kevin Harris interviewed Brooke Hinton about winning sectional, her competitiveness and her college plans.
• QUESTION: What does this sectional championship mean to you?
• BROOKE HINTON: “It means absolutely everything. The past four years have been really tough and we’ve come so close and we finally did it. It couldn’t have happened any better than the way it happened.”
• Q: How focused were you and your teammates to win the sectional title entering Saturday’s final?
• HINTON: “We were extremely focused. We knew from the start that we were going to go out there and just own it and do everything we could to win this match. We wanted it.”
• Q: Coach Powell said your team’s first-round sectional victory over Class 4A No. 7 Seymour last Thursday increased the confidence of you and your teammates. Do you agree with that?
• HINTON: “Oh, definitely. They were our main concern from the very beginning. We focused on them for two weeks at one point, and I remember thinking that I didn’t know what to think after we beat them because that’s all we focused on.”
• Q: This is your first sectional title since you entered the program in 2010, and Floyd Central’s previous sectional championship was in 2009. Are you a little surprised it took you this long to win a sectional title?
• HINTON: “I am a little surprised. But my sister [Camry Hinton] was actually on those [Highlander] teams during those three years that they went to [the IHSAA State Finals from 2007-09]. I saw those three teams and I knew this year we were as good or even better than those three teams that went to state. From the very beginning, I knew we would be doing something great this year.”
• Q: How do you like being a libero?
• HINTON: “It takes a lot of responsibility. Coach looks to me as a leader and I definitely accept that role and take responsibility of what’s going on with the team. I love it. I love taking responsibility and being in charge and making sure who is doing what they need to do so we can win the match.”
• Q: Do you have a preference on what sport you like basketball or volleyball? Or does that matter to you?
• HINTON: “It kind of depends. During volleyball season, I miss basketball. But during basketball season, I miss volleyball. It goes back and forth. But if I have to choose, it would probably be basketball because it’s more of a physical game. Volleyball is such a mental game. It can really take a toll.”
• Q: Whether you are playing basketball or volleyball, it seems you are always one of the scrappiest and most competitive players on the court in either sport. Describe your personality when you get on the floor.
• HINTON: “I kind of take responsibility as far as getting the team riled up and ready to play and getting the intensity up. I know that the rest of the team’s attitude kind of depends on what’s going on with me. It is really a big job for me. But I try to bring it to the court and get my team ready to play and win a match.”
• Q: Your grandfather, Joe Hinton, was known for his competitive personality when he was coaching. Do you get a lot of that competitiveness from him?
• HINTON: “I think I do. Camry has it to and [her older brother] Gavin has it. We hate to lose — hate it.”
• Q: What has your grandfather told you about being a competitor?
• HINTON: “He always expects me to play hard and I think that’s most important. That’s what he wanted out of his players when he was coaching, and that’s what he still wants out of his grandkids. He just expects everyone to play hard all the time.”
• Q: I understand you are a good student at Floyd Central (Hinton has a 4.45 grade-point average on a 6.0 scale). Is there any particular subject that you enjoy?
• HINTON: “I really like math. Math is my thing.”
• Q: What fascinates you about math so much?
• HINTON: “There is always an answer. The answer is right or wrong. In English, there is always some leeway and the answers vary. With math, there’s always a definite answer and you are always right or wrong.”
• Q: Have you made any college plans yet?
• HINTON: “As far as playing sports, no. But I would really like to attend Indiana University in Bloomington.”
• Q: If you go to IU, what do you plan to major in?
• HINTON: “Psychology.”
• Q: If a school expresses interest in you playing basketball or volleyball for that institution, would you be interested?
• HINTON: “It kind of depends on where it is and how good they are. But I could go to IU and play intramurals and clubs and have as much fun.”