Small-Town AD Gets a Special Welcome
Windsor — In the final scene of that wonderful baseball movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner says to his father, ”Hey dad want to have a catch?”
It’s a warm, peaceful summer night, and Costner’s father, John, looks up to the sky and out to the cornfield that was carved up to build a baseball diamond. “I‘d like that,” he says. As father and son slowly walk towards home plate to pick up gloves and a baseball John asks, “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa,” says his son.
It wasn’t a surreal a moment, but Windsor High athletic director Bob Hingston had a similar experience during an encounter in middle America with famed University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne.
About 15 years ago, Hingston read a book written by Osborne, titled Faith in the Game. “It was a book about not only football, but about life,” Hingston said recently. “I soon admired the man for the way he lived his life and how he treated everyone. He was just a quality guy who didn’t appear to have a phony bone in his body.”
Hingston gained the opportunity to meet Osborne in person recently, carrying the book to Lincoln for the legendary coach to autograph: “To Bob Hingston, best wishes. Tom Osborne.”
“That was my little slice of heaven,” said Hingston.
Family made it possible for Hingston to go from small-town Windsor to bigger-town Lincoln to meet Osborne, who is now the Cornhuskers’ athletic director and who won four national championships as a football coach, was a member of Congress and ran for the state’s job as governor.
About a month ago Hingston’s wife, Candy, who is the executive assistant to the chief executive officer of Mount Ascutney Hospital, found out that she would have to go to Lincoln for computer training. Bob, being the loving husband that he is, offered to make the trip with her so she would not be traveling and staying in a hotel alone. Did Hingston have any other reason for making the trip?
“My eyes brightened right away, but I thought there would be no way I could get to see a man so important as Tom Osborne,” said Hingston.
Anyway, Hingston sent an email and told Osborne who he was and that he would like to meet the coach. “His assistant got back to me and said Osborne had a busy week, but she would see what she could do,” Hingston said.
Hingston thought that would be the end of it, but he soon got an email back asking him if 3:30 on Wednesday would be OK. “The first thing I thought of was what kind of a man who doesn’t know me from snowballs would let me talk to him,” said Hingston.
Hingston was also told that if he would get there around 2:30, they would show him around the facility.
He arrived at at 2 p.m.
“I couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was,” said Hingston. “Not only at the university, but at the airport and hotel and people on streets. Everybody was so nice.”
Hingston would later tell his wife he wished everybody everywhere could act like the people in Nebraska.
At 3:30, Osborne met Hingston, and his dream trip went up another notch. “He’s 75, but his handshake was firm and you could just tell it was genuine,” said Hingston. “He asked me about my family and I told him my son was a football coach, and he told me that I must be proud.
“He was a very humble man, and you could tell that everyone in the office loved the man,” Hingston added. “He treated me like I was more important that he was. All the time, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I understand why everybody always played so hard for him. This is a God-fearing man you would want to pattern your life after. I feel pretty blessed just to have met him.”
Hingston said he asked Osborne what he was going to do once he retires on Jan. 1. “He told me he and his wife had this foundation: ‘That will keep us busy,’ ” Hingston said.
“He’s just going to go on helping people until he dies. I remember reading in his book how he would discipline players but never give up on them. What an amazing man.”