At Airways Middle School, Coach Shon Hinds is preparing the girls track and field team for high school with a time-tested approach.
by Sherman A. Jones
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Sports are a wonderful way to get exercise, enjoy as recreation and challenge that competitive spirit. With the change of every season follows a change in the sport being played. It’s Track & Field season in the MIAA and the Middle School City Finals are Friday (April 27).
The Jets of Airways Middle School will be competing in three events during those city finals and also have a participant in the TMSAA West Sectional that will be held next week. This isn’t familiar territory for Airways in this particular sport, but there’s a new coach and he believes his new home is “on the rise!”
Airways Middle School Coach Shon Hinds with track and field members Marquisha Mitchell, Denise Butler, Reona Thomas, Marneka Oliver. (Courtesy photo)
The Jets are coached by Shon Hinds. Coach Hinds is no stranger to the sport, but this is his first coaching job at the middle-school level. I got the chance to get his responses to a few questions about coaching and a few other things. Coach Hinds makes it known that he’s coaching at a different level, but the goal still remains the same.
Tri-State Defender: Coach Hinds, tell us about your track & field experience. When did you first become involved with track & field?
Coach Shon Hinds: I was a track and field athlete in High School (Whitehaven) and Middle School (Airways). I first began coaching the sport in 1993 at Southside High School. I didn’t run in college because I was awarded a football scholarship. Football was my dream, but I used track to better my speed, agility and endurance.
TSD: What led you to Airways Middle?
Coach Hinds: Truthfully, there were positions being cut from my former school. When I searched for another position, I saw the opportunity to come back to my alma mater, so I took advantage, and here I am.
TSD: Have you coached middle school students before coming to Airways?
Coach Hinds: No! It’s been an up-and-down experience, but I just chose to take the same approach I took with my high school students. I was preparing high school students for college, and now I’m preparing middle school students for high school. I try and get them to take life more serious. We talk about having a prosperous future and the steps it takes to be prosperous as a student-athlete.
TSD: What influenced you the most to become a track & field coach?
Coach Hinds: It’s real simple. I recall not having a father in my life and when I was a student-athlete my track and field coach was that father figure that I needed. He helped to mold me. He taught me to use sports as a common theme for life, survival for life. So once I graduated from college and my dream of playing professional sports came to an end, I said, “Coaching is what I want to do!” I wanted to give back to children what I got out of it: father-figure, role model, life-structured things…That’s what means most to me with any sport.”
TSD: What do you consider as one of the most important things that helped you to become successful in working with young people?
Coach Hinds: How people measure success is always different with every individual. My success with young people is seeing when they get that light back. When those young people begin to accept people the way they want people to accept them. When they begin to understand life and take it as a HARD challenge and know that you have to work hard for the things that you get.
Life’s not easy. It’s not time to play; no one is going to give you anything. You have to go and get everything you want. I think that, me being that “drill sergeant” in their life, giving them discipline, and watching the moves that they make from the way they smile, frown, walk, and talk. They will eventually get “it”. They never understand while they’re with you, but when they leave you it begins to kick in. I think it’s my purpose to work with young people.
TSD: As a first-year coach at Airways, what would you say has been most gratifying up to this point?
Coach Hinds: Working with this group of kids, especially the girls. I hate to say it, but at first there was nothing but struggle! I had to change their mindsets, their beliefs, and show them that hard work and discipline pays. I had to teach them how to carry their selves as young ladies. I’m getting to see them blossom now. Now I just keep adding water to the seed and it’s blossoming. I coach boys and girls, but me being a man trying to teach girls how to be women was a hard concept for them to understand.
TSD: What is one thing you hope your student-athletes have learned from you this season?
Coach Hinds: Real simple – start strong and finish strong! No matter what the outcome may seem to be, start strong and finish strong. Persevere through all and any situation.
TSD: What is one thing that you have learned from working with this group this year?
Coach Hinds: I’m getting old (He says with a smile and laughter). I’ve learned to be more patient, even though there were frustrating moments. Although it’s been rough, I realized that I do still have the passion and the love for the sport. My rewards are them going out and doing what I teach them to do. It’s like watching a picture in motion. After all the work being put in from all of the tough moments…when you get to watch it take place, it’s a beautiful thing.
TSD: Is there anything else you’d like to add or say for the readers out there?
Coach Hinds: To all those who pay attention to middle school athletics, look out. Airways Middle is on the way! We’re on the rise!
Five on 5
Five questions were put to members of the Airways Middle School Girls Track & Field Squad on Wednesday:
1. What do you enjoy most about school?
2. What do you enjoy most about Track & Field?
3. Who’s your most influential role model?
4. What do you want to do for a career?
5. How will Track and Field help you in life?
Check out their responses.
Marquisha Mitchell – 8th grade, 3.2 GPA, City & TMSAA West Sectional finalist in girls 200m dash and the first leg of the City finalist in the 4x200m relay.
I get to learn new things.
WINNING and supporting my teammates.
I would like to be a lawyer.
Learning not to give up on anything.
Reona Thomas – 8th grade, 3.2 GPA, City finalist in girls 200m dash, 100m hurdles and the fourth leg of the City finalist 4x200m relay.
Extra Curricular activities.
I have a lot of role models, but I like Coach Hinds the most.
I want to be a renowned fashion designer and later become a teacher.
Track and Field has taught me about being dedicated and never give up. Finish strong!
Marneka Oliver – 8th grade, 3.0 GPA, the third leg of the City finalist in the 4x200m relay.
Learning, the teachers and getting to meet new people.
My coach and my teammates.
I’d like to be a lawyer.
Strive for what I want.
Denise Butler – 8th grade, 2.6 GPA, the second leg of the City finalist in the 4x200m relay.
The chance to be on the track team.
My track coach. I love this quote from him: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
I want to be a doctor.
I think I can earn a scholarship for college by being on the track team.