By Nnenna Nnaji, '21
Rain Hinton ended her freshman year averaging 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Hinton improved as a sophomore, finishing third in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, averaging 17 points and 8.2 rebounds in 16 games against league rivals. An all-MIAA second team pick as a freshman season, Hinton was promoted to the all-MIAA first team earlier this week for her work as a sophomore.
"I have always known that I was capable of achieving a milestone like this, while also being aware that other people in the conference were better than me," Hinton, an alumna of Woodlan High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., said. "Coming here to Albion, I didn't know exactly how it was going to play out for me. In high school I was one of the top players, but coming to college I knew that I had to work even harder for my spot and position. I honestly did not expect to be doing as good as I am this early in my college career, but I knew I was capable of it. Only good things to come from here."
As an athlete, it is important to identify your weaknesses as much as recognize your strengths. Your strengths are things you can grow on to help you push yourself further, while your weaknesses hold you back from achieving great things. Wherever there are weaknesses, those are the areas that you have the control over to improve. Hinton shares her thoughts on her strengths and weaknesses as an individual player.
"My greatest strength as a player is that I am really strong. As a post player in this conference that helps me a lot on offense and defense. With all of this, I still must work hard on defense, not all about offense. It helps me be more aggressive in game situations because I want to win. My greatest weakness is that I am not a good perimeter player, or a good dribbler. These are things that I know I need to get better at because those are somewhat the main essentials in this sport. I have been working on these things all season and will continue to get better at them. I also tend to get down on myself when I make mistakes, which is an important weakness that I know will hinder me. I can be as good as I want to be, but if I continue to get down on myself, then I won't get better or grow from my mistakes. This season that is something that I have been working really hard on and has played a big role in my development as a better player," said Hinton.
Playing hard, risking your body every game and every practice is a part of basketball. While risking your body, you also risk injury at any given time. Hinton suffered a broken nose her freshman season, playing half the season with a protective face mask. This year Hinton had to endure a new injury far away from her face. Starting the season, Hinton had to miss multiple practices, and had limited minutes because of a plica in her knee. A plica is a fold in the thin tissue that lines your knee joint. They allow you to bend and move your knees with ease.
"This season the situation with my knee had a huge effect on me. When the plica started to cause inflammation that was my biggest issue. It made it very difficult and very painful to run and play defense, and play long minutes. Our athletic trainer Rachel Novario has really helped me get through this, as she did with my nose my freshman year. I was feeling very discouraged, but she always reassured me that I am bigger than my injuries. She works with me, and helps me get my knee stronger day by day. She has just been awesome, she really is the best," said Hinton.
Novario added, "We had to do a lot of individual treatment, and modalities such as ultrasounds, and a strict rehab program that she had to follow three times a week. Rain did really well with all of it. She was super consistent and really eager to get better. That did mean she had to miss some practice, which I know was really frustrating for her, but that had to be done to get everything right so she could be successful on the court. She was able to recover quickly because she has such a strong baseline when it comes to strength, because she has been working super hard in the weight room. I don't think Rain gives herself enough credit because she did work really hard to get better herself. Our relationship this year has gotten better, she trusts me, and knows that everything that I do and ask her to do has a purpose. That gave her motivation to work harder because she knew it was going to help her in the long run."
On Feb. 4, Hinton scored a new career high 28 points against Adrian College, surpassing her first-year season high of 27. It was is Hinton's fifth 20-point game of the season. She went on to finish strong with 23 in the following game at Alma College and 20 against Kalamazoo College and 21 against Saint Mary's College in the final week of the regular season. That gave her eight 20-point games for the year.
"Beating my career high this season by far has been my favorite and biggest accomplishment. At first, I didn't think I got it, but once I saw that I did, I was really excited. I was going for 30, but 28 was good. I had support from everyone on social media, and my family so I was thrilled," said Hinton.
In fact, Hinton has produced 720 points in just two seasons with the Britons. She is on pace to reach the 1,000-point milestone as a junior and could challenge Albion's career scoring record of 1,448 established by Sarah Caskey (2001-2005).
Hinton set goals for herself, and does not stop until she achieves it which are qualities of a great player and future leader.
"Not just achieving, but beating my career high from my freshman year meant a lot to me. Just being a sophomore and knowing that I am capable of having these type of achievements and having these type of numbers in a game is super good, especially in college. I feel like I have come a long way since my freshman year, and I will only get better," said Hinton.
Senior Jami Hubbard, a team captain, shares what impact Rain has had on the program.
"Rain has grown a lot since coming in as a first-year. We all knew that she was good and would become a big part of our team. We expected a lot from her from the start, and she hasn't disappointed. One thing that impressed me from the beginning was her lack of fear. Rain never backs down from a challenge, and that says a lot," Hubbard said.
Hinton remains to be a threat offensively and defensively for the Brits and continues to make a positive impact on the program. There was no question about Hinton's resume for the all-MIAA first team award.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nnenna Nnaji is a sophomore from Detroit and a product of the journalism program at Renaissance High School. An exercise science major at Albion, she is still considering a career in sports journalism.