Purdue Profile: Scott Hinkel
Scott Hinkel, head coach of the Purdue wrestling team. (Photo provided by Purdue Athletics)
Scott Hinkel has spent most of his adult life in the thick of Purdue wrestling. An All-American and Academic All-Big Ten wrestler in 1987, he graduated with a liberal arts degree in 1988. He still ranks first in career falls (45) and second in career wins (127) and remains close with his former teammates. After serving as an assistant coach to the team for 13 years, Hinkel is now in his fourth year as head coach of a Purdue team defined by its closeness and camaraderie. It's no wonder he considers Purdue wrestling a family affair.
As his grappling Boilermakers prepare to take on Missouri in the home opener this Sunday (noon in the Holloway Gymnasium of the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility), Hinkel is hoping that more than just friends and family of his wrestlers show up to watch the dual meet showdown. In fact, he has asked each of his wrestlers to bring 10 people outside of those categories.
Can you talk about your journey to lead the wrestling program at your alma mater?
It's pretty unique and amazing to be able to be at the school you wrestled at. The journey really started in my upbringing and how my parents brought me up. It was very conducive to the sport of wrestling -- a very hard work ethic. Those are the things I like to see in wrestling and with the guys we recruit.
Who else influenced you along the way?
After all my coaches, the guys I wrestled with at Purdue had the biggest influence on me. We're still close 25 years later. It's a family-type atmosphere that we had and continue to have. The journey has been special. I'm just taking a little bit from a lot of great people and trying to apply it here. I tell our guys it shouldn't end once you leave Purdue. You might need each other 20 years from now.
If you're not a huge wrestling fan, what can you expect from a dual meet like the home opener?
You can probably guess that there are going to be premiere matches. These are two conferences that are fairly dominant, so every match is going to be important. Fans can expect a very physical match highlighted by some great individual matchups.
What does it mean to wrestle at home?
Well, we always want it to be special. We want it to be a home field advantage. Missouri is a very tough team, but Big Ten matches won't get any easier. We would really like to fill up the Holloway Gymnasium every time we have a home meet. We only have four or five a year, so we really want to make it a great environment to showcase our Purdue wrestlers.
What will your wrestlers have on their hands with the Missouri squad?
Missouri is going to come in here fired up. They're a top 10 team. We went into their place last year and beat them, which was somewhat of a shock around the country. I'm sure they'll have that on their minds and be ready to go. It'll be nice for us to not only wrestle at home, but also have it shown live on the Big Ten Network.
The team does a lot of work in the community, from sharing stories with underprivileged kids to ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. Why is that an important part of the program?
We want people to come out and watch us. When there's an opportunity to help someone out in the community, we try to make sure we do it. The bottom line is you're helping someone, and we can show positive examples of what wrestlers can do off the mat.
In wrestling, you have 10 starters competing at 10 different weight classes. What are your team goals?
Our overall team goal is to get a 3.0 grade point average. Instead of saying we've got to win every match, we've been talking about having fun. We know we're going to work hard. So let's just work hard, smart and try to improve every day -- from match to match, practice to practice, from the beginning to the end of the season.
Fans looking to support the Purdue wrestlers in their home opener can find tickets online at www.purduesports.com/tickets/pur-tickets.html.