Hines provides stability for Lady Canes' program

In order to put the stability provided by Stephanie Hines at Monroe Area High School in proper perspective, consider the following: the seven seniors on the 2002-03 girls basketball team were not even in kindergarten when Hines became the program's head coach.

Hines took charge of the Lady Canes during the 1989-90 season. Fourteen years later, she is still at the helm at Monroe Area High School, a rare time span in high school athletics today.

"The time really has gone by fast," Hines said earlier this week. I guess it started to hit me that I had been here a while when I reached the 10-year mark. I was trying to plan something special for senior night that season, and the players recognized me for being with the program for 10 years. That was really special, and something I still remember."

Through the years Monroe Area High School has become an extended family for Hines. She notices when she goes shopping that she frequently finds herself looking for something purple in color.

"I bought some purple earmuffs, of all things, recently," Hines said. "Purple is just a part of me now."

MACHS principal Dr. Jimmy Stokes, who also has a background in coaching, knows the level of dedication and devotion Hines has shown.

"She cares about her players as individuals," Stokes said. "With her being here so long, it offers a great amount of stability for the entire girls basketball program from high school to middle school and even down to elementary school. Girls who play basketball know they will get to play for Stephanie Hines one day."

Originally from South Georgia, Hines attended the University of Georgia and was an assistant coach at nearby Winder-Barrow High School for two years before moving down Hwy. 11 to Monroe Area. She worked as an assistant for David McGee at Winder-Barrow.

"Stephanie is a tremendous person," McGee said. "The thing I remember most about her when she coached here was her enthusiasm and energy. She was a tremendous role model for our players at the time. However, I knew she wouldn't be an assistant coach for long, and it just happened to be Monroe Area that hired her. That has haunted us at Winder-Barrow a few times since then."

"I just take it one year at a time," Hines said. "I realized recently that some of the first players I coached are now 30 years old. I'm 37 so that shows how close I was in age to some of players when I started coaching."

Other fellow coaches also are quick to point out what Hines means to MACHS.

"The first thing I noticed is how Stephanie cares about her kids," Loganville High School girls basketball coach Bill Bradley said. "Her first goal is to do right by them. The kids at Monroe Area are truly fortunate to have someone like Stephanie Hines who cares so much about them."

Stokes echoes Bradley's sentiments.

"The reason coach Hines has been so successful is because she cares so much," Stokes said. "She is a great role model for anyone. As an administrator, Stephanie Hines is what you look for in a coach and teacher."

Hines said she has always stressed hard work as the main way to be successful. She also has changed her coaching style some to adjust to today's student-athlete.

"A lot of coaches look at it as 'their way or no way' and that doesn?t always work now," Hines said. "If I had not been willing to change some through the years then I wouldn't still be doing this."

Hines, whose Lady Canes are 2-0 this season, admits that each season is a continuing learning process for her. The veteran coach took the loss to Elbert County in last year's Region 8-AAA tournament very hard. It took her several days to recover from it.

This year Hines said she is trying to enjoy coaching more and has made it a point of stressing to her players the importance of one game at a time.

"You are always learning as a coach, even after 14 years at one school," Hines said. "There's always something new."

The accomplishment of being somewhere as long as Hines has is not something the coach overlooks. "I realize in the coaching profession (length of service) is an accomplishment," Hines said. "I love Monroe Area High School though. Whenever I have to miss a day at work I hate it. I enjoy trying to make a difference in young people's lives. That's what being a coach and teacher is all about."

Added McGee, "She has impacted a lot of lives during her time at Monroe Area. She has proven what loyalty means to her. I am very proud of all she has accomplished."

This story originally appeared in the Walton Tribune.

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