Passing it on
Mentors led Hernandez to coaching
When Bluffton University senior Austin Hernandez thinks back to a pivotal time in his life, he recalls memories of running track in high school.
“My high school track coach, Pete Luka, pushed us to be our best,” said Hernandez. “He encouraged me to expand my education and was a positive force in my life.”
That early support led Hernandez, a sport management major and coaching minor from Marion, Ohio, to continue running through high school and college and to pursue a future in athletics. He’s a 4-year member of Bluffton’s cross-country team and track and field team, where he runs middle distance. Hernandez is also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) at Bluffton.
Following graduation this spring, Hernandez’s goal is to become a high school coach and eventually an athletic director.
“I want to be a coach so I can share my experiences with young people and help them build character and achieve greatness for themselves,” said Hernandez.
During the fall 2021 semester, Hernandez gained extra experience in his field of study through an internship at Bluffton Family Recreation. Hernandez organized, planned and led programs for youth.
“I enjoyed it a lot, and I learned plenty,” said Hernandez. “I learned what it’s like to lead a class for kids and think off the fly. I also worked with officials for their indoor soccer league and can’t thank them enough for what they taught me.”
At Bluffton, Hernandez’s favorite classes have been Coaching Methods and Issues in Coaching where he picked up the advice of Guy Neal, head men’s basketball coach.
“He always says and this sticks with me, ‘You must be a coach that helps the administration understand your goals for the program.’”
Hernandez chose Bluffton because campus reminded him of home.
“I come from a small high school where I graduate with 53 students,” said Hernandez. “I’m happy with my choice and wouldn’t change it.”
As he finishes up his career as a college athlete, Hernandez wants to “thank everyone who has been a part of my journey through college and my athletic career.”