Liz Hinkleman needed to pinch herself earlier this month. Literally. She was sitting in DJ's Dugout in Omaha, Nebraska with the Olympic Trials going on nearby.
Across the table from the 2004 Munster grad sat Bill Dorenkott, the women's swim coach at Ohio State. It didn't take long for another door for Hinkleman to be opened.
On July 12 Hinkleman was named an assistant coach for the Buckeyes women's swimming program.
"It's kind of surreal," Hinkleman said by phone on Tuesday. "(Dorenkott)'s views for the program were very similar to mine. We really clicked."
Hinkleman was a state qualifier for Robin Tobias at Munster in the sprint events and relays. She swam at the University of Toledo, where she was part of three MAC championships as a competitor.
Upon graduation, there was some unknown.
"I wanted to be a pharmacist," Hinkleman said. "But I guess that wasn't meant to be."
She became a graduate assistant at Lewis University, but was only there for six months. An assistant coaching position opened at Toledo. She went back quickly.
Then, in September of 2010, Hinkleman was hired as Toledo's head coach, becoming the youngest D-I head coach in America at the age of 23.
"The athletic department took a leap of faith with me," she said.
In 2012 Toledo won the MAC championship in Hinkleman's second year on the job. She was named the MAC Coach of the Year, which led to the lunch at DJ's.
“Simply put, Liz Hinkleman is a winner,” Dorenkott said in a school press release. “Liz has enjoyed success as a student-athlete, assistant coach and, most recently, as a Division I collegiate head coach.
“Liz is respected by her peers and widely considered one of the rising stars in our profession. The Ohio State University is fortunate to be able to call her a Buckeye.”
Hinkleman will have similar responsibilities as she had at Toledo. She will be the recruiting coordinator, handle on-deck coaching and the other tasks familiar with D-I swimming.
Having roots in Indiana will help in the recruiting area.
"Indiana is a great swimming state," Hinkleman said. "Indiana has always been my top recruiting state. Having connections will help us there."