Athletics News

Water Polo Pioneer Chuck Hines Honored With Paragon Award

Chuck Hines has been tabbed to receive the Paragon Award

April 4, 2013

Chuck Hines--the retired director of aquatics at the YMCA of Asheville, NC--has received one of water polo's most prestigious awards. Hines, 80--also a frequent contributor in the past to Water Polo Planet's "Lest We Forget" section--received the International Swimming Hall of Fame's2013 Paragon prize for his 55 years of participation and leadership in the sport.

Previous water polo recipients of the Paragon include Andy Burke, Rich Foster, Stu Isaac, Kurt Krumpholz, Sandy Nitta, Bruce Wigo, as well as others from Canada, Cuba, and Europe.

A Midwest AAU champion swimmer while growing up in Minnesota, Hines began playing water polo in 1958 at the age of 25 during his first full-time aquatics job with the Minneapolis-St. Paul YMCA. A year later he made the all-star team at a YMCA international tourney featuring players from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Moving to YMCAs in Des Moines, IA, and Canton, IL, in the 1960s while continuing to play water polo, Hines received YMCA All-America acclaim three times and AAU All-America honorable mention once.

But competing as a player is only part of his story.  "I liked to play sports, especially water polo," Hines said, "but I always saw myself as more of a teacher and coach, which is why I chose a career with the YMCA." Hines organized and coached teams in Des Moines and Canton that won national titles, after which he moved to Asheville in 1969. His primary duties there were operating the aquatic facilities at the Asheville Y and teaching children to swim. On the side, he introduced water polo to the community.

Starting from scratch with a single ball, no goals, and a bunch of teenagers who'd never seen a game, Hines developed boys' and girls' teams at the Y that won numerous national tourneys in the `70s. The boys played--and occasionally beat--a dozen collegiate men's clubs. The girls traveled to play the best teams from Philly to Fresno and Miami to Honolulu, winning one gold medal and three silvers at the Junior Olympics; they also represented the East Coast at the initial World Women's Water Polo Club Championships, held in Montreal and Quebec City, Canada, in 1977.

Changing focus for various reasons, the Asheville YMCA gradually withdrew from national competition. This didn't deter Hines, however, from promoting water polo. Some highlights included the Y's annual Bele Chere tourneys he conducted for local teams in the `80s; the Olympic Development Clinic he hosted in 1984 featuring Silver Medalist Joe Vargas; teaching the sport to youngsters from as many as 10 states each summer at the Y's famed Blue Ridge Leaders School; and heading a unique water polo program for Asheville's inner-city boys in the `90s that attracted national attention.

Hines also coached Asheville Y athletes to national titles in swimming, whitewater kayaking, and the triathlon. His efforts led to his induction into the Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Hines also was selected to carry the Olympic Torch as it came through Asheville en route to Atlanta in 1996, and he received a gold medallion from the Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee for his volunteerism.

Beyond the local stage, Hines has played a major role in water polo nationally. He started publishing a water polo newsletter in 1961, using it to initiate the All-America selection process for high school and college All-Americans in 1962. He served on U.S. Olympic Committees for the Games of 1968, 1972, and 1976, including a term as secretary of the U.S. men's water polo team that brought home a bronze medal from Munich in 1972. He chaired nine committees for the AAU, American Swimming Coaches Association, and YMCA of the USA during the `60s, `70s, and `80s. And he wrote two instructional texts and dozens of articles on the sport.

More recently Hines has served as organizer and chairman of the U.S. Women's Water Polo Pioneer Players Hall of Honor, sponsored by Water Polo Planet--which recognizes the best and most deserving female poloists from the `60s and `70s--and as historian for American Water Polo. He's also penned a third book, Water Polo the Y's Way. In Asheville, he's helped keep water polo going as a YMCA activity, celebrating his 77th birthday in November 2009 by refereeing a fast-paced local game.

"I'm slowly running out of steam," he said, "and was totally shocked when I received a letter indicating I'd earned the Paragon Award. I'd like to thank my wife Lee for supporting my efforts over the years. I couldn't have done it without her."

The 2013 Paragon Award presentation will take place over the weekend of May 10-12 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, during the International Swimming Hall of Fame's 49th annual ceremony to honor the best aquatic athletes, coaches, and contributors worldwide. Hines' award is a glass vase etched with his name and credentials. Its Asheville unveiling will most likely occur later in May at a meeting of the YMCA's Water Polo Alumni Club.

After all these years, Hines is still in touch with more than 40 of his players from the `60s, `70s, and `80s. "I need to thank them, too," he said, "because they were the ones who got the job done in the pool. I just sat on the sidelines and cheered."

This article appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of SkipShot magazine 

Reprinted with permission from 




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