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NWBA Athlete of the Week - Nate Hinze

01/20/2016, 10:30am CST
By NWBA

Weekly Installment featuring men's and women's Team USA players

U.S. Paralympian Nate Hinze is part of the team that brought home the bronze medal from the 2012 London Paralympics.  He was also key in helping his team win the silver medal at the 2014 World Championships in Incheon, South Korea. He is training hard to make his second U.S. Paralympic squad and head to Rio for a chance to bring home the gold.  Having made the first cut coming out of the Selection Camps in early January, he is well on his way.

Name – Nate Hinze
Height – 6’3”
Classification – 4.5
Date of Birth – 6/12/88
Place of Birth – Sheboygan, Wisc.
Hometown – Cedar Grove, Wisc.
Residence – Oshkosh, Wisc.
High School – Cedar Grove-Belgium High School
College: University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
Major: Bachelor of Science, Physical Education
Masters: University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Area: Educational Leadership

Paralympic Games Experience – 2012 Paralympic Games- bronze medal

Career Highlights –2015 Parapan American Games, gold medal
 2014 IWBF World Championships, silver medal
 2011 Parapan American Games, gold medal
 2011 Intercollegiate National Championship
 2011 Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Player of the Year
 2011 Academic All-American
 2010 IWBF World Championship, bronze medal
 2009 Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Champion
 2007 Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Champion

Personal Background – Nate’s parents are Ron and Patti Hinze. He has a sister, Melissa, and a brother, Chad.  He is married to Ashley and has a 10-month-old daughter, Reese.

Hobbies – Jet skiing, rooting for Wisconsin sport teams like the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers, hanging out with family and friends, and playing video games.

Competition Wheelchair – Top End Paul Schulte

Q&A with Nate:

NWBA: Who is your hero?
Nate: My wife.  She is very supportive in everything I do.  It’s not easy being married to an athlete balancing all that stuff, helping me to be able to help the team to be successful.  She is my rock.  My parents are also my heroes. They supported me through the cancer treatments to new adventures like coming to games and constantly being there for me.  They made sure I always participated in wheelchair basketball and bought me my first wheelchair. 

NWBA: How old were you when you were diagnosed with cancer?  What type was it and what was the outcome?
Nate: I was diagnosed in my junior year of high school when I was 16 years old.  I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.  I went through nine months of chemotherapy and a 14 hour surgery to remove the tumor from my leg.  In that surgery they replaced my knee and part of my tibia with titanium.

NWBA: Are you cancer free?
Nate: I am cancer free.  December 18th, 2015 was my 10 year anniversary of finishing treatment.

NWBA: That is fantastic.  Congratulations!  It sounds like your family and wife were a huge support for your recovery. Was there one thing they did for you during this that you are thankful for?  
Nate: I think the best thing my wife and family did for me throughout the entire process was treating me the exact same way they treat anyone else. Especially in high school my parents didn't let me take any short cuts and that helped me a ton and prepared me for the future. My wife has done the same thing. I had my knee replaced for a second time in 2013 right after our wedding and she was a huge help, but didn't let me get away with too much.  

NWBA: When did you start playing Wheelchair Basketball?
Nate: In September of 2006 at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.  

NWBA: Did you play any other sports growing up?  Did you receive any awards from other sports? 
Nate: I played a little wheelchair softball and had some fun with that but I liked basketball more.

NWBA: What is your profession?
Nate: I am a Physical Education teacher in middle school.  This is my fifth year.  I was very fortunate when I graduated college to be hired by a district that supports my USA wheelchair basketball endeavors.  Having summers off is helpful too.

NWBA: Are you able to take part in volunteer work, perhaps with patients that have had a diagnosis similar to yours?
Nate: My wife and I have volunteered at One Step at a Time Oncology Camp in the past. With my busy travel schedule with basketball I have not had the opportunity to do this in a few years. Hopefully when my playing career is over we will be able to volunteer again and help kids going through a situation similar to my own. I have also had the chance to chat via text with a few other kids going through cancer treatments.  

NWBA: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
Nate: I stay relaxed, stay loose and do like to sit at the end of the bench.

NWBA: What is your favorite basketball moment?
Nate: Winning the bronze medal in London- the whole London Paralympics.  Hopefully we can win a gold in Rio.  There is intense competition.  We have to prepare the hardest.  Our coaching staff and weight trainers are putting us in a position to be successful.

NWBA: Why do you play wheelchair basketball?
Nate: I play wheelchair basketball because it’s an awesome sport.  I have met a lot of great people and traveled to so many places.  It replaced the competitive itch when I got sick.  It has taken me places I never would have imagined travelling to.

NWBA: What does it mean to be a Paralympian?
Nate: It’s an honor to be a Paralympian and wear the USA jersey.  It’s something no one can take away from you.  It takes hard work and dedication and shows all you have overcome.  It’s a reflection on your family and support crew.  It’s not just an individual who makes a team but the people that are there supporting you along the way. 

NWBA: Do you have pets?
Nate: I have two dogs, Cooper and Penny.

NWBA: What is your short term goal?
Nate: To win the NWBA National Tournament Championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.

NWBA: What are your long term goals?
Nate: Make the USA team and win a gold in Rio.  With work, I would like to become a Principal or Assistant Principal and advance my career and personally, I would like to grow my family.

Cover Photo credit: Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

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