Kym Hilinski was cleaning out a drawer in her family’s house when she found it.
It was a set of goals. Her son, Ryan, writes them out before each football season. When this set was compiled, he was just embarking on his first college season at the University of South Carolina, competing for a backup spot behind a fourth-year starter.
“One of his goals was to see the field,” Kym Hilinski said. “He said, ‘Well, I definitely saw the field.’”
These days feel a long way from when she joked about hoping, as a mom, that he could go be safe and through a career with four redshirt seasons at South Carolina. Then the starter, Jake Bentley, made it to the end of the first game of 2019 before breaking a bone in his foot.
It set off a whirlwind of a weekend and thrust Ryan Hilinski, a true freshman, into the starting lineup. Hilinski himself ending up dealing with multiple injuries. And his parents were there, guiding and supporting him though a season where he got an unexpected chance and suddenly had a whole lot on his plate.
They’d come across the country from California for a new beginning, and so much came so quickly. Looking back, it was a crucible of sorts. They learned and came through as a family who had already been through a great deal of taking on so much of the unexpected.