SAU football player is off the field, but not out of the game

James Hinderks is a theology and philosophy major at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

By Sara Clifton

DAVENPORT — James Hinderks is listed on the St. Ambrose University varsity football roster as No. 88, but you won’t find him on the field this season.

Hinderks, a sophomore, has torn the ligaments in both of his shoulders and has not been able to play because of it.  He has been “redshirted,” meaning he will be able to play beyond the standard four years because of his absence.

His football duties currently consist of filming practice and going to home games to cheer on his teammates. Hinderks said he feels out of touch at times, but he has faith.


Strong faith has been one consistent factor in his life. Hinderks grew up in Bloomington, Ill., and has attended Catholic schools since preschool, so SAU was an easy choice for him. 

Now, with a double major in philosophy and theology, he believes his family is the inspiration. They’ve always encouraged him to go to Mass and participate in other church-related activities, he said.

Hinderks got involved with football starting in high school. As an outside linebacker he joined friends on the field. He said his high school team had a strong camaraderie and tradition. During his sophomore year the team went to the state championship, but lost.  Starting varsity as a junior, he was a member of the team crowned state champion that year. In his senior year he was named a captain. This series of events let Hinderks know he wanted football to be part of his college experience.

Now he’s trying to concentrate on staying active with other things while he’s rehabilitating from his injuries. He is a resident assistant for Franklin Hall on campus, and is involved with the Campus Activities Board, among other activities. He’s trying to lift weights again, working with physical therapy and striving to stay in shape. “My goal is to be back for spring practice, but right now my condition is a little discouraging,” Hinderks said.

Coach Mike Magistrelli said Hinderks is a great young man and although he has not been able to play, he is still a part of the team. “He has continued to work hard to come back from these injuries while making great contributions to the programs in other ways,” Magistrelli said.

Being a theology major and spiritual person has helped pull Hinderks through these tough times.  He has a job through the religious education program at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bette­ndorf teaching middle school students. His work with the students helps reinforce the basic principles of theology for him, as well. 

All of these activities have “let me know that you can get through anything; I’ve done a lot of personal thinking and evaluating to stay busy,” Hinderks said. The wide receiver hopes to come back stronger and play in future seasons.

He’s also set his sights on what he wants to do after he graduates from SAU. Boston College will allow Hinderks to pursue a degree in theology to teach at the collegiate level. He said he would consider returning to SAU for a teaching career.

It wasn’t always theology that interested Hinderks. His first declared majors were computer science and business management. “It was all about the money, it wasn’t something I really enjoyed.  I took one theology class my first semester here, and I loved it,” Hinderks said.

Coaching football is also something he’d love to do. Although football has not been a large part of his life this season, it’s still a part of the picture, as is faith. Hinderks is hooked, on both.

(Sara Clifton is a St. Ambrose University student and photo editor and ad manager for The Buzz, the university’s student newspaper.)

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