Men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson is used to rallying his players, but Tuesday he had an opportunity to fire up the freshman class.
Hinson talked about everything from basketball to politics in a speech at SIU Arena entitled, “Leadership and taking ownership of your education and goals.”
The event was sponsored by University College classes, which are required for freshmen. Hinson said he told Chancellor Rita Cheng earlier this year that he would speak to the group if given the chance.
“I wanted to talk to (the freshman class) because we all came here together,” the coach said. “This is my first year here and your first year here.”
Thomas Cheng, one of the event’s organizers, said he hoped Hinson could motivate the students.
“We wanted to create student spirits,” he said. “We wanted to rally up the students to be more involved, and I think this will help get students get more engaged in their learning process.”
Before talking about other things, Hinson first focused on what he knows best — basketball.
He told the students about why he took the Saluki coaching job in March, even though the team finished with just eight wins last season. He said he was an assistant coach at Kansas, but he really wanted to be a head coach again, and SIU and the Missouri Valley Conference gave him the best opportunity.
“I really wanted this job,” Hinson said. “I really wanted to be here at SIU.”
Hinson also encouraged the students to come support his team. Before coaching the Salukis, Hinson coached against them while he was at Missouri State. He said he remembers how scared he used to be when he brought his team to SIU Arena. He told the students he wants to make SIU an intimidating place to play again.
“There’s no greater thrill than when you get an opportunity to be part of something where you know you made a difference on the floor itself,” Hinson said. “We need you. We need the Dawg Pound. I need you guys to get fired up and ready to go.”
The coach also gave the students a variety of life lessons. He first talked about how people need to be happier with themselves. He said people often hold themselves to a standard that is too high.
“I think we all compare ourselves to a level in which we can’t compete,” he said. “We all have low self-esteem because we hold ourselves to a level that is unrealistic. No one can make you inferior without your permission.”
Hinson also said communication today needs to be improved. He said he doesn’t like how people choose electronic forms of talking over face-to-face contact.
“I love technology, but I hate texting,” Hinson said. “You are creating a society right now that doesn’t know how to communicate.”
Hinson wrapped up by taking questions and encouraging students to enjoy their college experience and the privileges that come with living in the U.S.
“When I’m retired, you will run this country at that time,” he said. “Please support our country.”
Brandon Tanner, a junior from Tunnel Hill studying civil engineering, said he enjoyed the coach’s speech.
“He’s really enthusiastic, and he really got me into his speech,” he said. “He was really entertaining and I learned a lot.”
Matthew Riechers, a senior from Springfield studying civil engineering, said Hinson’s words made him want to come to more basketball games.
“It was good for the whole student body to come out and hear what he had to say,” he said. “It definitely got me fired up to come out and see the team.”