Charlie Hinds is now a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
But the words he heard from former colleauges, wrestlers and friends during Saturday’s open house celebration at Liberty Middle School, in Camas, touched his heart in more ways than any national recognition could.
“This is an award that Camas can share because it’s something that Camas did,” Hinds said. “I got the opportunity to work with some great coaches and athletic directors. Camas fans love their teams. We always had packed houses for the wrestling matches. We also had some amazing wrestlers who worked hard, were willing to follow and became great leaders when the time called for it. If it wasn’t important to them, it would just be a wrestling match.”
Hinds started the wrestling program at Camas High School in 1967. Over the next 33 years, he touched the lives of many Camas students and athletes. But Hinds didn’t do it alone. Roger Hamreus served as the assistant wrestling coach for 25 years. Hinds said Hamreus brought stability to the program. Al Antak started a wrestling program at the junior high level. Hinds relied on Antak and Rich Graham for recruiting.
Hinds’ wife, Lynda, provided him with the time, strength and the inspiration to keep coaching.
“She’s wonderful,” Hinds said. “She put on dinners for the kids, and did all the things a coach’s wife does. It just wouldn’t have happened without her.”
Hinds has fond memories of coaching his son, Jim, while his daughter, Michelle, served as a team manager.
“That was when wrestling became a family affair,” he said.
Hinds retired in 2000. He handed the reigns over to two-time Camas state wrestling champion Glenn Hartman.
“Nobody has as much integrity as he does, and he expects that from the kids,” Hinds said.
Hinds, 68, is digging retired life. He and Lynda still live in the same Camas house where they raised their children. Their grandchildren are growing up to be future Papermakers.
“I get up at the same time every day, when I want to. And I do the same things every day, when I want to,” Hinds said. “And I have lots and lots to do. I’m doing things I never dreamed of.”
Hinds hopes he is remembered as more than just a wrestling coach. He also taught a variety of subjects to Camas students.
“Whatever came along, I managed to get it. I never thought of myself teaching a subject, I was teaching kids,” Hinds said. “The great thing about teaching is you got a chance to hang out with interesting people all day, every day. It was fascinating for me to see how kids learned things differently. They could see things that I couldn’t.
“The great thing about coaching is it’s a teaching situation where you already have the kid’s attention,” he added. “The kids want to learn because they don’t want to get beat. So when you throw in stuff about life, they seem to get it faster than they do in the classroom.”
Hinds enjoyed sharing stories with old friends and making some new ones Saturday. He hopes to always be a part of the Camas heritage.
“It’s pretty cool to have the coaches you competed against recognize you for your hard work,” Hinds said. “The award in itself is pretty cool. But what I heard from former students was greater than any reward. It was quite a thrill.”