HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – It’s no secret that Henderson County baseball coach Adam Hines is loved by his team.
So when polycystic kidney disease threatened his life and forced him to step away from the team he loved, it was a crushing blow.
“When we started playing I was really anxious to get back,” said Hines. “I knew I couldn’t, but I was really anxious.”
Hines was diagnosed with the disease six years ago. It was manageable for several years, but as it progressed, it posed a serious risk of taking his life.
But with his kidneys functioning below 10 percent, a hero stepped up to the plate. In January, Hines found a kidney donor in David Gustafson in Connecticut. And in late March, Hines received the transplant that saved his life.
He had to step away from the diamond for the Colonels’ first 19 games as he recovered from the procedure. In his absence, assistant coach J.D. Arndt stepped in as interim head coach, but Hines wasn’t far from the team’s collective thoughts.
“Coach is everything to us,” said senior Dalton Sellars. “He is the heart and soul of this team.”
“It’s more than just baseball,” Arndt said. “He’s a great mentor.”
“We play for him,” said senior Landen Hagan.
That hiatus was challenging, but it was the support from his team and the Henderson family that kept his spirits high.
“I’m from Evansville. I coached in Owensboro for a little bit, but I feel like we’re part of the Henderson community now, going through that process,” Hines said.
That love and support paid off last week when Hines made his return to the team. In his absence, the Colonels compiled a 12-7 record.
“I think they handled I tremendously,” Hines said. “I talked a little bit about how it was going to go before I left, and I think they really listened. I hope that in some way it was a little bit of an inspiration for them. I know I was inspired to get back.”
“We wanted him to come back to a pretty good record, and hopefully got better everyday that we went out on the field,” Arndt said.
The Colonels have certainly given Hines the record. But even if they go on to lose their last 11 games, the Henderson skipper has learned that it’s less about the play on the field. Instead, it’s as simple as being on the field.
“I could care less about that record,” Hines said. “I’m just glad to be back. I know the kids understand that. I’ve expressed that to them. For me, it’s about the future, and trying to set it up so that I can be here for several more years, and I’m just glad to be back in the park and back in the atmosphere.”
And with a new kidney and a new lease on life, he finally has that chance.
(This story was originally published on May 12, 2021)