GOSHEN — Derek Hinen could barely contain the excitement when he officially became the new Fairfield boys basketball coach.

The Fairfield Community School Board approved Hinen as the new varsity boys basketball coach during its monthly school board meeting Thursday. It will be Hinen’s first varsity head basketball coaching job after stints as an assistant coach at Whitko and Norwell high schools.

“Obviously, a lot of excitement,” said Hinen on becoming the Falcons new head coach. “Me and my wife (Samantha) are extremely excited, and I also feel pretty blessed to have this opportunity.”

The tradition of sports and the boys basketball program specifically stuck out to Hinen when going through the interview process.

“I know the tradition there; it’s definitely a sports community,” Hinen said. “They love their athletics. From everything I’ve gathered, they love their basketball program. Just looking forward to get it going again.”

Hinen is the ninth head coach in program history. He replaces Steve Hall, who served as the interim Fairfield coach for the last month of the season after head coach Randy DeShone resigned the first week of February. The Falcons struggled throughout the 2020-21 campaign, finishing with a 2-18 record.

A chance to start fresh was also a welcoming aspect of the job, in Hinen’s eyes.

“I’m just excited to get started and start fresh,” Hinen said. “I’m not necessarily looking to last year and trying to prove anything from it or anything like that. I’m just excited to get started and go in there with some fresh eyes.”

Hinen was a standout high school player at Columbia City, helping lead the Eagles to a semi-state appearance as a sophomore in the 2010-11 season. He graduated from Columbia City in 2013, making the All-NE8 team three times before going on to play at Huntington University.

While at Huntington, Hinen became one of the best scorers in the Crossroads League and NAIA as a whole. He three seasons with the Foresters, he accumulated 1,435 points.

Following his junior season at Huntington, Hinen transferred to the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne. After sitting out a year due to NAIA transfer rules, Hinen led the Cougars to the NAIA Division-II National Championship game. Hinen earned honorable mention All-American honors in his lone season with USF, scoring 644 points in the 2017-18 campaign.

In total, Hinen finished with 2,079 points in his collegiate career.

“Obviously, it’s great experience,” said Hinen of his time in college. “I think the most important thing is just the coaches that I had, learning from them constantly. Just trying to soak everything in is what I tried to do as a player, and then had some great experiences with those programs.”

Hinen is just 27 years old, making him one of the youngest head basketball coaches in the state. Although he’s young in terms of age, Hinen believes the number of years he’s spent around the game of basketball has him prepared for the job.

“I feel like I have really great basketball experience,” Hinen said. “It doesn’t really matter how old you are if you have that, I think. But I think one advantage for me is just being able to build relationships and being able to connect with some of the younger players, hopefully. That’s the plan anyway.”

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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