Pullman HS, USATF Inland Northwest Assosciation
Hall of Fame Class of 2010
Mike Hinz first experienced the sport of track and field in high school as an athlete. In his first year at WSU, he was inspired by the legendary coach Jack Mooberry. Life intervened and it would not be until the late 1980’s when coaching would present him an opportunity. It was working with his son John in the throws that first opened the door. He hasn’t looked back since. Getting what he would describe as a “late start,” Mike felt the need to catch up through the study of technique, training theory and psychology via reading, studying video, attending clinics and through college coursework. He discovered a passion for the sport that continues to this day. In over twenty years as a high school and club track and field coach, Mike has experienced great success. He has greatly contributed to the sport of track and field. His own words say it best, “Winning awards is OK. Winning meets is fun. Seeing athletic success at high levels is great. The true joy in coaching is in assisting athletes in setting goals, making a commitment to achieve those goals and attainment of whatever goals may be appropriate for them in a healthy and supportive environment.”
Mike first experienced track and field at East Valley High School in Yakima. He competed in the 880 and mile relay. He says the highlights of his first experience were getting his name in the paper for the first time after placing 3rd in the 880, earning a letter in the sport, running on the mile relay team with his brother Marv and placing at the district meet. Mike graduated from EVHS in 1963 and enrolled at Washington State University. He was inspired by legendary coach Jack Mooberry in a track and field PE class. However, his college experience was interrupted by service in the U.S. Marine corps from 1964 to 1968. He explains his military service this way, “Unfortunately, track and field was one of the few courses I excelled in that year and owing to inadvertently forgetting to attend class regularly and playing pinochle at times when studying might have been more prudent, my next four years were spent in the Marine Corps.” During his four years in the Marines, Mike served a two-year deployment to Vietnam and he trained as a distance runner who was self-coached. As Mike explained in his own words, “I became reasonably proficient despite training in US Keds sneakers and having an idiot for a coach.” Mike went on to earn two degrees from Washington State University. He retired as a Scientific Instructional Technician Supervisor in the Chemistry Department at WSU in 2003.
Mike’s work with his son John in preparation for the 1987 season led to an opportunity to coach for the Pullman Comets Track and Field Club in 1988. In 1989, Mike became a volunteer assistant coach at Pullman High School. In 1993, he became the head coach for the boys and girls teams at Pullman High School. He also became the head coach for the Pullman Comet Track and Field Club that same year. Mike’s Pullman teams have won six state championships – three boys team titles and three girls team titles. Pullman has had many other team trophies. There was a six year stretch where Pullman won all their conference dual meets and there was an eight year span where Pullman only had one loss each by both the boys and girls teams. There have been numerous individual athletes to have won state titles and district titles both on the track and in the field. There have also been numerous individual athletes who have placed at meets on the district and state levels. Mike has been recognized by being named the Great Northern League coach of the year five times. He has been recognized as the Washington State coach of the year twice. Mike was a finalist for the Inland Northwest coach of the year and was the NFHS Northwest Sectional Coach of the Year and a finalist for the NFHS National Coach of the Year.
Mike’s commitment to the sport in admirable. He has worked with the administration of the Inland Empire/Inland Northwest Association of TAC/USATF since 1990. He has served as the president of the Inland Northwest Association of the USATF. He has attended the TAC/USATF Annual Meeting every year since 1990. He has served as the District 7 Representative to the WSTFCA Board of Directors. He assisted in the early organization and administration of the Washington vs Oregon Meet of Champions. He has been a long-time member of the WSCA and WSTFCA. His enthusiasm for the sport of track and field and his love for coaching has made Pullman Greyhound track and field a special experience for generations of Pullman High School student-athletes. His induction into the Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame is a testament to his numerous contributions to the sport in Washington State.