EDMONTON – Austin Hinchey graduates this week from NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. But the aspiring Paralympian already has his eyes on another prize: qualifying for the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Hinchey, 23, has been a member Team Canada’s men’s sitting volleyball team since he was 16. This summer’s Parapan Am Games in Toronto will be Hinchey’s qualifier for Rio.
Born with a brittle bone disease, by 10 the athlete had broken his leg several times. Just before Grade 6, and after several hospital stays, Hinchey decided to have his left leg amputated below the knee.
“I wish I had the amputation done earlier,” says Hinchey, who wears a prosthetic limb and a high-performance foot. Following the surgery, he was able to pursue his passion for sports: hockey, soccer, basketball and, of course, volleyball, never letting his amputation slow him down.
Hinchey first came to NAIT in 2009, where he played on the able-bodied men’s volleyball team. After three years, he transferred to the University of British Columbia to play volleyball for two more years, before returning to NAIT in 2014 to complete his degree.
Hinchey has competed in several international volleyball events, including the 2011 Guadalajara Parapan Am Games, winning bronze. While he didn’t play for the NAIT Ooks this year (student-athletes have a maximum of five years eligibility in university or college sport, which Hinchey used), he did practice with the polytechnic’s volleyball team and organized a sitting volleyball exhibition-style game with student-athletes and members of the national team as players. Off the court, Hinchey has also excelled, receiving an academic scholarship for highest overall grade in sales management.
NAIT’s 2015 Convocation will be held on Friday, May 1 (6:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 2 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 – 87 Ave.