When it comes to former Hudson three-sport standout Sarah Hinkle, "Elizabeth" will always be her queen
For some, LeBron James is their inspiration.
Others may idolize Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Sarah Hinkle, on the other hand, prefers someone far less famous to be her guiding light.
She happens to be a lot closer to home too.
“Elizabeth is easily my biggest role model,” Hinkle said. “I look up to her in every way, as a student and athlete, a sister, a person and a best friend.”
So who is this mysterious Elizabeth?
No, we’re not talking about Queen Elizabeth II. She’s not current Massachusetts’ senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren either.
What about female screen legend Elizabeth Taylor?
Nah, way before Hinkle’s time anyway.
The 2020 Hudson graduate’s favorite Elizabeth happens to have the same flesh and blood as she does.
She is Elizabeth Hinkle, AKA Sarah’s older sister.
“Her drive, hard work and intensity influences me every day and she has the biggest heart,” Sarah said of her sibling. “[She is] easily one of the most caring, supportive, kind people in my life.”
While she may not be known on a first-name basis like a certain longtime monarch in the United Kingdom, the elder Hinkle was undoubtedly a legend in Northeast Ohio.
She certainly was on Hudson-Aurora Road, at least.
The 2018 graduate, who is now a student at Butler University in Indianapolis, was a three-sport star at Hudson High School.
Elizabeth was a three-time state qualifier in cross country. She also helped the girls lacrosse team advance to the state semifinals twice during her career and was the indispensable point guard for the girls basketball team.
Fortunately, this rare but fabulous Hinkle gene produced a near exact clone.
The younger Hinkle, a 2020 Hudson graduate, also was a three-sport standout for the Explorers.
She excelled in both lacrosse and basketball and was a crucial member of the Hudson girls golf team.
Sarah will continue to work her powerful lungs to the limit for at least another four years.
She recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and lacrosse careers at the University of Tampa, an 89-year-old private university that makes its home on the west coast of Florida.
Sarah, who first discovered lacrosse when she was in the third grade, said she is leaning toward a degree in psychology.
“Everything about Tampa is perfect for me,” Sarah said. “The location, the size, the campus, the academics are incredible. The team is competitive and welcoming and it feels right.
“Tampa was really the only school I was serious about, although I did look at several large Ohio schools, but I wanted a more medium size.”
When it came to handling a certain stick, there was nothing “medium-sized” about her efforts on the field. Everything about Sarah’s lacrosse skills could be considered large.
Colossal, as a matter of fact.
The do-everything midfielder was a two-year captain who recently won the Ray Hyser Award. She finished her career with 69 goals, 15 assists, 139 ground balls, 75 draw controls and nine interceptions.
“Sarah was dynamic on all ends of the field,” said Explorers head coach Kyra Maludy, who has been at Hudson since 2018. She’s a year-round athlete. She is definitely, by far, one of the most committed players. She can excel in anything.”
By the way, Sarah had a chance to top her BFF during the spring.
In case you’re wondering, Elizabeth Hinkle finished with 93 goals and 142 total points during her illustrious career at Hudson.
Sadly, Sarah’s lacrosse swan song was viciously erased. Thanks to a deadly respiratory tract infection known as COVID-19, the entire spring season was canceled.
Thankfully, unlike many of her teammates, Sarah won’t have to give up the sport she loves most. And if this nightmarish global pandemic ever ends, you can be sure that Sarah, who also is a member of the Hudson-based Llama Lax club team, will keep her lacrosse stick everywhere she goes.
“I am sad that I didn’t get to play under the lights on Memorial this year, but not as bummed as others,” she said. “My seasons of basketball and golf gave me so many memories and taught me so many lessons. I was not completely destroyed to not have lacrosse. I do miss playing, but my summer team is allowing seniors to return so that is a plus.”
It sure is. Playing golf and basketball were big-time plusses too.
Just like her older sister, Sarah was the heart and soul of the basketball team. The tireless point guard earned Suburban League National Conference second-team honors during the winter.
Sarah also earned National Conference honorable-mention recognition for her efforts on the golf course. She was a Division I all-district performer in both sports as well.
“I do not know how I would have functioned without high school sports,” Sarah said. “They have given me more than I could have ever asked for. I can say that you get out what you put into high school sports.
“I’m going to miss my teammates and coaches and all of the laughs and tears throughout every season, but I will be back to visit as much as I can. Playing for Hudson was a mix of excitement, competition, hard work and fun. I would have never wanted to play for any other team.
“Hudson is the name I loved to wear across my chest, representing such an amazing community.”
Sarh hopes she can embrace a similar community in a city that is far larger than Hudson.
The Spartans, who are members of the Sunshine State Conference, won six of their first seven matches before the pandemic struck the globe in ways that seemed unimaginable prior to mid-March. Tampa reached the NCAA Division II tournament last year.
“I plan to become the best player and student I can be and I think Tampa is a great place to grow and learn,” Sarah said. “I want to be a competitive force on the women’s lacrosse team and learn from some amazing players and coaches.
“I do not know if I can play right away, but I am going to work my hardest and see where that takes me. I’ve learned that what you put in, you get out, so I’m going to work my hardest.”
Maludy didn’t get to see her former pupil’s maniacal work ethic on a daily basis like she did in previous years.
Nevertheless, Maludy won’t take her prolific goal-scorer for granted. The same could be said about someone else who looks strikingly similar to Sarah.
“I got to see both Sarah and Elizabeth,” Maludy said. “Not having the Hinkle name on my roster any more is going to be really weird. Both of them were so powerful. They generated a lot of positives for the program.”
They sure did.
And with all due respect to Whoopi Goldberg, this “Sister Act” is no joke. When it comes to her big sis, the younger Hinkle believes her favorite Elizabeth is the greatest queen of all.
“There is no one else I would rather have as an older sister,” Sarah said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Faceto_Gannett.