The Packers have announced that Dave Hinkens of Xavier High School in Appleton, Wis., has been named the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week.
Hinkens, in his 20th year as head coach of the Hawks, has his team out to a 2-0 start this season. They look to remain perfect on the year when they take on the undefeated Shawano Hawks Friday, Oct. 9.
As Hinkens and his team continue to adjust to the challenges of COVID-19, one of the toughest changes this season was the decision to cancel their annual football camp for kids with autism due to the pandemic. For more than 10 years, the Hawks have hosted their camp for kids from 6 to 18 years old, bringing in 70 to 100 campers from Wisconsin and neighboring states. The special day includes campers participating in 10 position-specific drill stations led by the high school football players. Campers are then cheered on as they run through a tunnel created by the team, where they receive a medal for participating in the camp. To wrap up the day, players, coaches, campers and their families all share a meal together and a team captain awards a game ball to a camper that had an excellent day.
Hinkens and his team are hopeful they can bring the event back next year for both the campers and the players.
"It's been an incredible experience, and something that I would say easily is the best day of our year," said Hinkens. "We try to build our kids up and establish a culture where they are servant leaders, and this is an opportunity for our kids to help other people. It's incredible to see the smiles on their faces and see how much it means to the families of the kids that attend our camp. Our kids get the perspective of helping people, which is principle to what we do in our program. The smiles on the faces of our players are just as wide as those on the campers. It is just a great day and incredible experience for everyone. Unfortunately, we were unable to have our camp this year, but we are very hopeful and optimistic that we are going to be able to resume it in 2021."
Hinkens grew up in Kaukauna, Wis., where he graduated from Kaukauna High School in 1984. Throughout high school, he participated in football, basketball and track & field. Hinkens played defensive back and wide receiver under coach Bill Biekola. He graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1988, and his football coaching career began as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater in 1995, until 1999. In 2000, he coached for a year at the collegiate level for Lawrence University as an assistant coach before taking over as the head coach for the Hawks in 2001.
For Hinkens, the Coach of the Week Award reflects all the challenges that he, his staff, and his team have gone through this year.
"For my staff, it means a lot because we really have committed ourselves in the offseason to make improvements to our team, all virtually," said Hinkens. "I don't know how many Zoom meetings our staff has done this year; it feels countless. So we've worked as much as we ever had and even more so preparing for this season. But most importantly is what it means for our team. We have a great team that's really been asked to do a lot this year. More than any other team that I've had, just to be able to play. These kids have been up to those challenges and it just means a lot that we are able to play and we're doing things right, and this is just great recognition for that work."
Hinkens and his staff oversee a program of 85 players with 42 suiting up for the varsity games. His assistant staff includes Chris Bourassa, Drew Bourassa, Mike Bryan, Ken Diedrick, AJ Hollanquest, Steve Hurula, Dan O'Brien, Zach Oszman, Bobby Ramlet, Jeremy Schuh, Andy Strand, Chris Sullivan, John Weninger, and Jim Zuleger.
Hinkens and his wife Julie, have two sons, Drew and Darren.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Program:
The Green Bay Packers Coach of the Week program supports football outreach efforts by giving high school coaches the recognition they deserve. Nominations can be submitted by 10 a.m. every Monday to Ryan Fencl, Packers football outreach specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominations should include the nominee's name, address, school, phone number and reason he/she is deserving of the award. This year, because some schools have postponed their football seasons to the spring due to COVID-19, the Packers are seeking coaches to be nominated regardless of their teams' on-field performance or whether they are playing in the fall or spring. Rather, the nominee could be honored for how they have turned programs around, how the team has impacted the community, or how the coach impacts the players and their families.