Laramie boy with disorder is just one of the guys

Laramie boy with disorder is just one of the guys
2012-02-22T23:00:00Z Laramie boy with disorder is just one of the guysDAVID WATSON Laramie Boomerang The Billings Gazette
February 22, 2012 11:00 pm  • 

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — His intelligence is sharp.

His humor is quick.

And he never misses practices or meets because of a work ethic that is second to none.

Laramie High freshman Brian Hinman is a proud member of the Plainsmen swimming and diving team with a driving desire to be just one of the guys.

But there is no hiding that Hinman — who has TAR (Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius) Syndrome — has to do a little more than most in his quest to blend in. And that has made him a source of inspiration for his teammates.

"They have accepted him like any member of the team, and we don't treat him any differently other than a few special needs," coach Tom Hudson said. "He is at every practice and meet, works hard and does everything everyone else does. He doesn't want to skip anything."

Hinman is always willing to describe his condition and how he has lived it.

"It's a blood disorder in which my bone marrow can't produce platelets and has a hard time clotting," Hinman said. "It is generally characterized by shortness of the arms and the tendons right under the knees. People like me could be hospitalized for a simple bloody nose.

"There are no set plans of how I overcome it. I just come up against obstacles, push past them and learn to deal with it. Of course, there's surgery. But who wants to go with that for like 21 years?"

So far Hinman said he has had "eight (medical implant) ports to keep the heart pumping blood, 87 blood transfusions and millions of needles."

"(But) a long time ago," he added, "I told myself I can do anything anyone else can do."

Hinman has been swimming since the seventh grade; the backstroke is his specialty.

"I have to work four times harder, but I'm like everyone else and one with the team with some bragging rights," he said. "I'm always on the ground and tend to have a lot of cuts on my knees.

"The team always says if I don't bleed, then the team is not doing well. So we have a saying, 'Twice the blood, twice the length for twice the man.'"

Hinman also has his share of nicknames.

His best friend and teammate, freshman Ryan Beman, calls him "chicken wing for obvious reasons," Hinman said. He also is known as the team's "jellyfish."

"The nicknames don't bother me; I take pride in them," he said. "My teammates accepted me because of my sheer willingness to overcome it.

"I've also had a lot people come up to tell me how proud they are. At the Riverton meet, another swimmer with almost my exact same condition came up to me — which was pretty cool."

Hudson said Hinman has given back to the team as much as they have given to him.

"He is very inspirational to the other guys," Hudson said. "When they start feeling aches and pains or sorry for themselves, they look over at Brian and how hard he tries. It just makes them go even harder.

"He has a great group of friends and he adds just as much to the team as the guys who win state titles."

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