Rock Chalk Weekly: Officially: A Father First
Written by Krysti Cole, Kansas Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Dressed in overalls that tell stories of midnight calls and life-saving procedures, while wearing boots that know every crease in his feet from working tireless hours, Randy Hinde – father of Kansas swimmer Bryce Hinde – pulls up to the pool in his clinic truck on a Saturday morning.
No more capable of dictating the schedule of his daughter’s sports commitments than the timing of delivering a newborn calf, the veterinarian was shifting from his professional responsibilities to his devout dedication to being an involved father. Upon the arrival to the pool Randy transforms and enters the natatorium now clothed in a pristine polo ready to officiate his daughter’s swim meet, a Superman-like switch for this super dad.
This is a transformation that Randy has been doing for over 15 years after he first became a meet official when Hinde was just beginning her swimming career. Despite the grueling hours that come with being a veterinarian Randy decided early on that he was going to play an active role in his daughter’s life, no matter what sacrifices it took.
“I see my officiating drawing to a close after Bryce is done swimming,” Randy said. “That will be my time to go ahead and sleep in or take the extra call. As parents we have to take care of our kids while they are still kids.”
Randy saw that one way he could take care of Hinde was to become a meet official. After getting to join Hinde, who was just a few years old, in the pool for her first two years of swim lessons, Dad was told that it was time for Hinde to start swimming on her own. It was then that her swim teacher told Randy that he should look into officiating.
The thought of going to meets and sitting in the bleachers for hours on end to watch his daughter swim for only a few minutes was far from appealing to the invested father, so he decided he would take the advice given to him and become an official, not fully knowing what awaited him.
He first started volunteering his time by officiating Hinde’s local meets in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she joined her first swim team before a promising career led her to join the Kansas City Blazers swim club. With the move to a bigger team came exposure to more opportunities, both for Hinde’s swimming as well as Randy and his officiating career.
A trip to Dallas, Texas for a USA Swim meet opened Randy’s eyes to a whole new world of the sport. With Hinde joining a new team and embarking on her first road trip without her parents, Randy figured that being on-deck as an official would provide the young girl comfort.
“It was a disaster for her,” Randy recalled his daughter’s trip to Dallas. “That was the first time she swam with the Blazers, being from a small town she was thrust into swimming with a team that had 500 swimmers that she didn’t know very well.
“They didn’t want any parental contact before or during the meet. I saw an opportunity for me to go down there and officiate and be on-deck with Bryce. It allowed me to be a little bit of a pacifier for her as a 10-year-old.”
The ability to lend support to the swimmers in the most stressful moments of competition is what attracted Randy to officiating most. He enjoyed the opportunity to improve his skills and learn something new, while also getting to serve as a mentor to the swimmers.
Randy’s commitment to being involved in his daughter’s life was always welcomed and appreciated by Hinde. Having her father on-deck with her has become a calming factor before Hinde steps onto the starting blocks.
“It’s so nice to have someone on-deck that you can go chat with before the race and help keep the pressure low,” Hinde said. “He’s so supportive in everything I do. It’s been a joy to have him throughout the entire process.”
It is not only Hinde’s father that has chosen to help the talented swimmer pursue her love for the sport, but it has always been a family affair as her mother plays a significant role in supporting the development of their daughter’s skills.
When the Fort Scott, Kansas native made the decision to join the Kansas City Blazers club team it came with sacrifices for all of the Hinde’s. A 95-mile commute, six days a week, every winter and summer allowed Hinde to become a master at sleeping and doing homework in the car.
The dedication it took from the entire family to provide Hinde with the best resources to foster a successful swimming career came automatically for her parents. It was never a decision that had to be made; they just understood that was what it meant to be a parent.
“I have so much appreciation for my parents,” Hinde said. “It was more commitment from them than it was from me (to drive Hinde to and from swim practice). I just had to get in the pool for two hours and swim then get out, but they were taking time off from work and spending the money that they could be making to drive me to swim practice.”
Hinde’s mother, also a veterinarian, often conducted the hour-and-half-drive to and from practice. She has constantly been one of her daughter’s biggest supporters, always reassuring her that the time put in would pay off, and it certainly has.
Now, not only is Hinde a second-year captain for the Jayhawks but she is a small-town girl that is getting ready to finish her final year swimming for a Division I program. Just last year Hinde carved her name in Kansas’ record books after turning in a time of 1:01.98 in the 100-yard breaststroke at the 2015 Big 12 Championships.
“I’m so proud of Bryce,” head coach Clark Campbell said. “What she’s accomplished and what she’s becoming is so special, there is going to be a big hole without Bryce and the Hinde’s around.”
Before reaching the personal milestone at the conclusion of her junior campaign, Hinde’s season was put on hold after a car accident forced her to take time off from the sport.
While driving on the highway one afternoon Hinde noticed what she had thought was a black car coming at her. As the object got closer she realized that it was not a car but a loose tire, a semi truck tire. Aware enough to not swerve but brace the wheel and take the impact, Hinde was able to walk away from the wreck with only a concussion.
However, the injury was enough to keep Hinde out of the pool for a week during the season. Having taken little time off from the sport over the course of her career put into perspective how much love she had for the sport. Since the accident Hinde refuses to take her time in the pool for granted.
“I want to enjoy the process more than anything this year because it’s my last,” Hinde said. “I want to embrace every day with joy and appreciation for what I have been blessed with here.”
There’s no doubt that Hinde will be enjoying the process a little more with her dad on-deck for her final swims.
Although Kansas and the Hinde family seem to now go hand-in-hand, Randy had to go through another kind of transformation before he could call himself a Jayhawk. The Kansas State grad bled purple through and through before his daughter made the trip to Lawrence. But given his paramount commitment to family, the father eventually loosened up his allegiances to the Wildcats.
The way KU and Campbell have taken care of Hinde made it easy for the nurturing father to find himself chanting “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” at more than just swim meets.
“I probably watch KU basketball more than I watch K-State basketball anymore, and I never missed a K-State basketball game when I was there,” Randy admitted. “The blood has changed colors to somewhere between purple and red over the last few years.”
It does not matter what color his blood is, Randy’s respect for the work swimmers put in is what fuels him to dedicate his time to officiate meets. The effort they put forth to chase the black line endlessly is all the reason he needs to serve the swimming community.
Randy’s motivation to serve goes beyond officiating. With his daughter now in the midst of her final season of swimming he has taken on the role of having buttons made for each of the swimmer’s and diver’s family members to wear during meets.
“The kids deserve it,” Randy said. “They put in so much effort into swimming that they deserve a little bit extra (support) on our part.”
The mutual respect that Randy and Hinde have for the sacrifices each has made over the years has created an unbreakable bond between the father and daughter.
While her dad has spent most meets watching Hinde’s performances on-deck, he was in the stands with her mom as they witnessed their daughter’s record-breaking performance at last year’s league meet. It was in that moment that everything came full-circle for the family as they were brought back to those first years when Randy was holding his daughter in the pool as she took her first strokes.
For Randy, he will never regret his decision two decades ago to regularly trade in his overalls for his polos. The relationship he has with his daughter is a greater payoff than he could have ever expected. She is in the record books. He is in her heart.
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