NIU today | Sports management alum Jamaal Hines lands job leading after-school programs
Jamal Hines grew up hooked on police procedurals on television, imagining that he would one day solve crimes like “CSI” and “NCIS” detectives on behalf of innocent victims.
Enrolling at Old Dominion University in his native Virginia, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in sociology.
“I really wanted to go into a field where I could just help the community on a regular basis, but there were a lot of negative connotations towards law enforcement that started very heavy around 2015,” Hines says. “So I was like, ‘What else is there that I can impact people?’ I fell in love with leisure.
The path to this career led him to Anderson Hall.
And, three years after completing his MS in Sports Management from Department of Kinesiology and Physical EducationHines landed a dream job as an after-school specialist at Braddock Lake High School in public schools in Fairfax County, Virginia.
It started on August 3 with plans to build on the same kinds of initiatives and opportunities it has provided since 2019 to Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services as Deputy Director of David R. Pinn Community Center.
“My access to children will be 10 times greater. Instead of having my maximum of 40 at the Pinn Center, there are thousands in middle school and high school,” he says. “I want to be able to impact more kids, not just in sports, but in other extracurricular activities and in their university studies.”
Recreational programming has an “incredible and substantial” impact on teenagers, he says, adding that he “wouldn’t be the human I am today without it”.
“Just from the structure of the programs you create, you can teach these life skills to young people through sport. How to listen to authority. How to follow the rules. How to work in a team. How to put a strategic plan into action,” says Hines.
“That kind of stuff is something I teach all my young athletes,” he adds, “and it’s something I can watch them continue to incorporate into their lives as they go on to grow. beyond sport to university and in their professions.”
Hines presents himself as proof of the power of organized recreation.
“It takes me out of where I come from. I had a difficult upbringing. It was just me and my mother. She worked two jobs to keep food on the table, and I saw how much she struggled and worked to get me to where I am,” Hines says.
“If I’m lucky enough to ignite a spark in another child to be so passionate about what needs to be done to improve their life, that’s awesome,” he adds. “What better than working every day to make someone else’s life better? That’s kinda how I feel.
NIU – nearly 1,000 miles from home – came on its radar on a trip to Grapevine, Texas to attend the annual conference of NIRSA: Leaders in College Recreationformerly known as the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association.
He was then working for the recreation department of Old Dominion and went to the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in search of a graduation internship.
David Lochbaum, who is now Associate Director of Facilities and Operations at Holmes Student Center, but then held the same title at NIU Recreation Centermade Hines an offer.
As a graduate facilities operations assistant at the Rec, Hines helped supervise staff, provide professional development and training to staff, and coordinate special events and programs, among many other duties.
He was also hired at DeKalb Park Neighborhoodwhere he worked as a sports facility supervisor and program instructor, and volunteered to coach youth basketball for the Illinois wolf pack.
The time in Illinois also included an internship with the Park District of Oak Park under Executive Director Jan Arnold. “Through our networking efforts at the NIU, Dr. steven howel helped me find this opportunity,” says Hines, “and I attribute much of my success in the industry to Ms. Arnold and the PDOP scholarship program.”
Within Anderson Hall, Hines truly found mentors in Howell as well as Jen Jacobs“I really liked the professionalism and the networking opportunities I had at NIU,” says Hines.
“I really liked that with Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Howell, it was more of a peer-to-peer interaction,” he adds. “It wasn’t that student-teacher interaction anymore. It was more like, ‘This is my professional opinion. This is my career path. I want to grant you this knowledge so that you can bring this knowledge into the world and grant it to others.’ I really liked this collaboration. »
Collaboration – and advocacy – are important to him.
After months of continuing to engage with young people remotely at the Pinn Center during COVID-19, Hines plans to do the same this fall at Lake Braddock, which will begin the school year Sept. 8 entirely virtually.
Skilled in social media and marketing, he is already creating electronic ‘welcome cards’ to introduce himself as he looks forward to the challenges of a new job during a difficult time. “I really hope to grow professionally,” he says, “and show people how hard I am ready to work.”
This ethic is evident in his involvement with the Fairfax County NAACP.
“We’re doing what we can to be socially active,” he says, “letting people know that what’s going on in the system right now is wrong. The systematic injustices that people face in this country because of their color, their creed, their religion are wrong, and we just want people to be held accountable.
Hines and his friends travel regularly to nearby Washington, DC, where they bring water and snacks to protesters as well as milk for those who have been gassed. Sometimes they walk themselves.
Activism is worth the time and effort, he says, and fits his moral code.
“I don’t think anything I do is inappropriate. It might be portrayed that way in the media, but every single person I’ve protested with has been a peaceful protester and honestly just wants the same thing I want, and that’s up to the forces of the order to do their job. and not abuse their power,” Hines says.
“I will continue to fight for this because this is what I believe in,” he adds, “and I will continue to bring as many people as possible with me so that we can fight for this right to equality that we have been fighting for for hundreds of years.”
Such advocacy “also sends a strong message to children who see me fighting for them and fighting for their people,” he says.
But for Hines himself, the fierce lawyer in his corner is his mother, Tina Hines.
“My mom works hard, is really caring and made sure I never missed an opportunity,” he says.
“I didn’t have as much access to other people’s resources as others, but this woman did everything she could to make sure I never missed a practice. I practiced three sports all year round and I played travel ball in the summer,” he adds. “She made sure I got involved because she knew how important it was for me to stay involved. If you are not involved, you have the possibility of going down the wrong path.
There is another champion in his life: Hines himself.
Growing up in tiny Stuarts Draft, Virginia, where more than 95% of the population is white, “the reach was on me. The scope was on me. Someone was expected to be pregnant. It was expected that I would not go to university. I was expected to play with drugs and alcohol.
None of these expectations came true, of course, but the expectation for higher education did not come easily.
“I had to beg people in high places. I said, ‘These are my scholarships. This is my financial aid. It’s not enough. I don’t have enough money to be able to follow my passions. I reached people who gave me grants, who gave me opportunities to succeed because they saw this passion,” he says.
“These are just leftovers from my mother. She just pushes me to be where I need to be. ‘Cs get degrees’ wasn’t a thing for my mom and me,” he adds. “She’s been everything I needed her to be – this guide, this protector, this leader – and she’s emotionally overwhelmed as we start talking about where we’ve been to where we are now. “