Working Through the Gritty

By Sabrina Schaefer

In her family of coaches and athletes, Asha Hinton was raised with drive and dedication to help her on and off the courts. Her parents always taught her that nothing is impossible, that you “can’t allow people to limit you.” But despite growing up with one of LA’s most notable high school sports coaches, her stepdad Dwan Hurt, Asha didn’t know how much her upbringing and personal sports experiences could benefit other young players until she started her own career on the court.

Coming in at just 5’3”, Asha didn’t fit the images she’d seen of volleyball players—let alone outside hitters. At least, that’s what critics and even some coaches had reinforced for her over the years.

Luckily, Asha found the support of strong coaches who echoed what her parents had always taught her about believing in her own abilities and passions, and before she reached high school, Asha was proving all the nay-sayers wrong.

“If you’re with the right people who really see you and tell you you’re capable of doing anything, then you’ll do it,” Asha says of her club volleyball coaches who allowed her to thrive as an outside hitter.

That’s the spirit she brought with her to court when she started coaching a team of her own at A Place Called Home in East L.A.. “I told my kids ‘I’m an outside hitter’ and they’re like ‘You?!?” Asha recalls of her early days coaching, “As long as that can be motivating for them, that’s all good,” she laughed.

As Asha continued her career as a Coaching Corps Team Captain at CSU Dominguez Hills, her journey taught her new things to bring back to her players, like coming out of her comfort zone and taking on more leadership; “That’s part of the sport, but that’s really just part of moving and succeeding in life in general.”

Even though her time as a Team Captain ended when she graduated in 2019, Asha keeps coming back to A Place Called Home to coach the “littles,” balancing her volunteer hours with a career as a physical therapist assistant and certified personal trainer.

“Being able to see the kids and help them and see them grow, it just amazes me. Honestly now I get why people do it for so long,” she says, remembering her late stepdad who coached for nearly thirty years, “He wasn’t just a coach, he was a mentor, he was a father-figure for so many kids.”

And now after returning to coach season after season, Asha has established her own legacy of coach and mentor to dozens of kids in East LA’s underserved neighborhoods and is eagerly awaiting the day she can get back on the court with them.

If you want to share your own unique Coaching Corps experience, contact Steven Parker, Lead Coach Development Manager, steven.p@coachingcorps.org

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