RANDOLPH - Home at last and with some impressive hardware in tow, the newly minted New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D state champion Randolph Cardinals were filtering off the bus on Friday evening when defensive coordinator Brent Brown leaned over to fellow coach Kevin Hind and said, with a contented sigh, "I feel like a 1,000-pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders."
Hind, though equally thrilled by the Cardinals' picture-perfect victory at the Carrier Dome over Tuckahoe mere hours before, wasn't able to share with Brown that same sense of relief.
No, as the Cardinals' basketball coach, he didn't have the luxury.
The hard work for assistant football coach Kevin Hind, right, isn’t coming to a close now that Randolph’s state championship season is over. As the Cardinals’ boys varsity basketball coach, Hind is just getting started.
P-J?photo by Scott Kindberg
"I feel like a 10,000-pound weight has been dropped on my back," he replied with a laugh.
Already three weeks behind other schools throughout the area - as Randolph was battling Maple Grove for a Section 6 title on Nov. 3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium most other squads were in their gyms getting their first workouts in - Hind's hardest work isn't coming to a close, it's just beginning.
"It's never easy," Hind said of the quick transition both he and his players will have to make from one sport to the next. "Most teams have had a good month to get ready, but we've already had to cancel a couple of scrimmages. For us, what was a four-month season has become a three-month season."
Though Hind, who has been coaching basketball at Randolph since 1998 and along the way has collected well over 200 wins, and his team have met on occasion during the "lost" month, what took place bore little resemblance to a usual varsity basketball practice. But given the amazing run the football team was on, and the fact that a number of key contributors - including the championship game's most valuable player, Cody Oldro, Bryce Morrison, quarterback Mitchell Maycock, Nate Beaver, Nick Hettenbaugh and standout runner Jordan Dowiasz - are on both squads, Hind was happy to make the first priority keeping those players healthy.
In fact, 9 of Hind's 10 expected basketball players were on the football team.
"Football was first because we had a chance to win a state title," Hind explained. "The last thing I would ever want to do is have somebody twist an ankle, because I'd never forgive myself. So for the last month, we met (three times) a week for about 20 or 30 minutes to just get the ball in the kids' hands. We didn't do any conditioning, nothing live - a few layup drills is about it - it was all very minimal."
That'll change come Monday, however. But with a "core group" of players - Oldro, Maycock, Beaver and Morrison were all either starters or a sixth man last season - Hind is feeling OK about getting off to a late start.
"If I had five new starters I'd be a lot more stressed," he said. "The good news for me is that I've had a lot of contact with all of them; it's not like I haven't seen them since last basketball season. We went to a couple of spring tournaments, played summer ball, so we're going to jump right in."
Up first is a scrimmage with Panama, then the non-league season opener with Sherman, originally scheduled for Dec. 4 but moved back to Dec. 7. Following is a battle with rival Maple Grove just four days later.
It's a tough start, but necessary given that the part of the season that truly matters - league play - is now less than three weeks away.
"We'll treat the Sherman and Maple Grove games like scrimmages," Hind said. "We'll play hard and do the best we can. It's going to be a process. We're just going to take it one practice at a time, one game at a time and keep getting better."
And maybe, after all the hard work and long nights, Hind, like Brown, will feel the weight he currently shoulders crumble away.