The lessons Edmonton Eskimo Gord Hinse learned from his Grade 3/4 teacher, Mrs Sylvia Hartley, still resonate with him today.
Hartley, who taught at St Gabriel School in Edmonton, “was big on language arts,” says Hinse. Although Hinse was a good reader as a young child, he didn’t really enjoy it: “Reading was something I did at school. It was a necessary evil—I did it because I had to, like all homework.”
After Hartley became his teacher, Hinse began reading because he wanted to. “She really got me realizing how much fun reading was, and how much I just loved to read books. I remember her being passionate about it, and I developed a passion for it too.”
Reading had benefits beyond entertainment. Hinse says, “I just got more comfortable with using the English language, more comfortable with reading, with understanding what I was reading, and using language the way I wanted to.”
That ease with language stood Hinse in good stead in high school and especially in university. Hinse, who has a BA in Native studies from the University of Alberta, notes, “University isn’t easy. You have to study.”
When he first enrolled, Hinse “flunked out.” He says, “I didn’t know how to be a proper university student. Freedom kind of got away from me.”
Hinse went to King’s University College in Edmonton for a year to upgrade his marks. He then returned to the U of A, enrolling in Native studies. “I fell in love with the faculty and what they were teaching. I found something I loved and just committed to it.”
That hard work paid off: Hinse was an Academic All-Canadian for two years. “Even though I had a lot of success at the U of A with football, one of the things I am most proud of is getting that [designation] for two years in a row.”
Hinse, who played for the U of A Golden Bears for three years, graduated in 2012. Now in his fifth year in the CFL, he’s living his dream.
“I want to keep playing as long as I can. If I can play another five years that would be awesome,” he says, noting that the average football career lasts only three years.
Another goal is going on for more education, “because a lot of degrees combined with a Native studies degree are very valuable.”
“A lot of perseverance got me to where I am today,” Hinse says. “I had my sights set on where I wanted to be, and didn’t let anything get in my way.”