Thursday, August 9, 2001/lk
For the last 21 years you could find a familiar face at the Hood River Little League ballfields. From the beginning in 1981 with his son Kirk, Dale Hinman has spent countless days and evenings coaching all levels of boys and girls.
In 1982, Dale began coaching a girls minors team when his daughter Jennifer was 8. Girls softball at this time had very little support or following in the community. Dale's time and committment to the sport and kids, helped develop the interest and skill level of the girls and gained an acceptance of parents and fans. As the team progressed through majors and seniors the next eight years they were to accomplish three trips to the state playoffs with the girls winning state, divisionals, and placing third in regionals in 1989.
From 1990-92 Dale helped coach girls softball with his brother, Hugh, along with helping two other teams at the same time. In 1993 and 94 he also coached ASA softball. In 1995 his younger daughter Talia also started in Minors at the age of eight. Once again Dale took the girls through the age groups and twice more winning districts and going to the state tournaments in 1997 and 1999.
This year, his final year of coaching would have been his 12th appearance in the Fourth of July championship game in Hood River Valley. Due to scheduling conflicts, this year's game wil not be played.
But his daughter Talia was able to give him one of many proud moments by hitting a grand slam home run out of the Hood River park in her final Senior at bat.
Even though softball was the focus for gathering kids together, he also taught them the meaning of sportsmanship, teamwork, and the accomlishment of personal goals. A child would never come off the field from practice or a game where a negative comment or lack of encouragement was given. The girls worked hard and the respect given to their coach was always present.
"Softball is just a game" he always says, but he uses that game to bring out the best in a child, whether it be in athletics or everyday life.
Through his years of coaching, Dale has always been a humble servant to his ballplayers. Time spent and lessons learned from hard work, discipline and committment have inspired many in this valley, and has made a lasting impression for many former players. One to redirect praise to players and other coaches, Dale will now be a spectator in a program that has touched the lives of many.