Crown College Alumna Katie Hinkle, Nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year

Crown College Alumna Katie Hinkle, Nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year

By Seth Allen

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and change one of your decisions?

For college students, there are some decisions you may regret. Did you pick the wrong major? Should you have focused more on your spiritual development?

One recent Crown graduate has no regrets after leaving Crown. Katie Hinkle participated in athletics, joined a student leadership team, excelled in academics, and impacted others greatly. She’s an example of what it means to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16).

Who is Katie Hinkle?

Hinkle graduated with a bachelor’s degree this past May with a double major in Communications and Christian Studies, and a minor in Marketing.

Besides her coursework, Hinkle made smart decisions about how to make the most of her college years: completing two internships, joining an on-campus club, and assisting several departments on campus, including the Registrar’s Office, Athletics Department, and the Marketing Department.

Hinkle also made a point to influence others while at Crown. “Katie impacted my time at Crown dramatically,” says Molly Greenfield, one of Hinkle’s basketball teammates. “I could go to Katie with anything and she would listen and share advice to help me through the hard times.”

I am very fortunate and thankful to have been part of an organization and institution that gave me the opportunity to use my talents for something bigger than myself,” says Hinkle.

More then forty percent of Crown students participate in at least one sport, but Hinkle took an extra step and participated in two. She played volleyball for three years and women’s basketball for four years. She also served as team co-captain for basketball. Being selected by her teammates, she displayed so much leadership potential for this team role.

“My teammates are the reason I enjoy playing sports,” says Hinkle. “There is an indescribable bond that occurs when a group of ladies are pushed beyond their limits and are able to celebrate great achievements together. They make everything worth it.”

Hinkle felt many demands on her time as she committed to multiple leadership positions around the campus. She worked as a photographer for the Athletics Department, helped in the Registrar’s Office, and was instrumental in launching the new Content Marketing team at Crown.

“One of my all-time favorite memories is when our Student Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.), an on-campus student athlete leadership group, partnered with the Western Wings, Minnesota’s Special Olympics team,” says Hinkle. “The student committee leaders work with the Western Wings twice a year to host poly hockey (floor hockey) scrimmages that are open to the entire campus and basketball clinics with our men’s and women’s basketball teams.”

“This partnership impacts both Crown College athletes and Western Wing athletes”, she says. During her time working with the Western Wings, Hinkle saw the importance of love and relationship through the lens of sports. “My favorite part of this partnership was having Western Wing athletes come back year after year and seeing my teammates and fellow athletes remember their names and pick up like they never even left,” says Hinkle.

“Katie was a natural born leader for our volleyball team,” says her teammate, Josie Parker. “You could always depend on her and trust her. When you played next to Katie, she made you want to play your hardest.”

NCAA Woman of the Year Nominee

Because of these opportunities and her leadership abilities, Crown’s athletic administrators nominated Hinkle to be one of six women from the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. With more than 200,000 female college athletes competing at the NCAA level, this award recognizes “graduating female athletes who have distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service, and leadership.”

NCAA-participating schools nominated a record number of athletes this year. They recognized a total of 542 female student athletes for their achievements. The Woman of the Year Committee will select three ladies from the top 30 in each division as finalists in September. The final winner will be announced on October 22nd at the annual award ceremony in Indianapolis.

For Hinkle, this is quite an honor.

“A verse that I always come back to is Psalm 46:5: ‘God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.’ God will not abandon those who trust in Him and when His Church is attacked He will be there to help and stand by her,” says Hinkle. “When we get tossed around and pulled in every direction, we will not be torn because God is the source of our strength.”

After graduating in May, Hinkle spent half of the summer helping with supervising duties for the Crown College Content Marketing team, with her primary focus placed on building a foundation for the future. She wrote and designed the team’s 43-page handbook.

In the words of Danielle Hall, S.A.A.C.’s lead faculty advisor and head volleyball coach: “The most impressive thing about Katie is that even when she’s not on her A game, she still leads with compassion and grace. Her faith sustains her and is very evident in her daily actions and words.”

Hinkle’s teammate, Michaela Svoboda, agrees by saying, “Katie Hinkle is a teammate that Crown will never be able to replace. I played all three years of volleyball with her and she led her team with passion, strength, and veracity. Does it surprise me that she was nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year? No!”

We asked Hinkle for some final thoughts for current and future students.

“Make sure you find people who will encourage you to stay up late making memories but who will also drag you out of bed for 8AM class,” she says. “Those are the friendships that will last a lifetime! Your time is limited where you are at, so make the most of it and never let your weaknesses define you. Instead, strive to love people, lead with passion, and look for opportunities to make a difference; that alone will lead to many great things.”