Every year before the annual alumni basketball game at Denison, Joe Hines ’04, a former player and dental student at Ohio State, would pick up the phone and start calling other former players, encouraging them to make their way back to campus to relive their hoop days. But Joe didn’t call for the 2010 game. On September 13, 2009, he died unexpectedly from complications due to pneumonia. Within two days of his death, girlfriend Sunny Munn began to raise money in an effort to endow two scholarships in his name—one at Denison and one at Ohio State.
Munn says she knew she was doing the right thing. With fewer than five African-American students in his dental school class of 103, Hines had often talked with Munn about someday creating scholarships to encourage diversity in higher education. “If I don’t do something to make it better,” Hines told her, “it’s not going to get better.” To Denison basketball coach Bob Ghiloni, Hines’ plan was typical. “He was one of those guys who is almost too good to be true.” Hines mentored kids in Big Brothers Big Sisters, was a volunteer basketball coach at his grade school, and worked as a college ambassador for the American Dental Association student mentoring program.
To honor Hines, the annual alumni basketball game at Denison became the Joe Hines Memorial Alumni Basketball Game in 2010, complete with a “Golden Molar” award, donated by Tom Hodgkinson ’74, which is given to the game’s MVP.
This year, 22 men came back to Denison to reunite, hit the hardwood, and honor a former player. They came from Ohio, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Tom Hodgkinson and his sons courtesy sunny munn Tommy (’03) and Danny (’07) all got to play on the red team, but they lost to the white team—85-91; Brian Elder ’08 was the honored recipient of the Golden Molar; and on a table in the hallway, there was a series of photographs of Hines—reminders of the team member who wouldn’t be playing, but who continues to bring the guys back once a year for the big game.