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IPFW's Hyde loves playing at home

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Follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

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It's all relative for Mastodons' senior star

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 11:04 pm

Sixteen years ago as the family minivan drove away from Fort Wayne, 6-year-old Amanda Hyde cried so much her parents probably felt like they were kidnapping her.

Though their new home in Findlay, Ohio, was only 90 minutes away, as far as Amanda cared, all her family, cousins and best friends were left behind forever.

Her parents, Brian and Taya Hyde both attended Harding High School, and like most of their family started married life in Fort Wayne. Then Brian got a job with Marathon, taking Nathan, Justin and Amanda with them to Findlay.

For an entire year after every brief visit to Fort Wayne, Amanda sobbed on the rides back to Ohio.

As like her brothers she became heavily involved in sports, there was always less time to come back. Though an all-state basketball player, her scholarship offers were from mostly mid-major schools, but when the letter from IPFW arrived she was thrilled.

``Fort Wayne is my home, and I found my way home,'' she said. ``Even if I hated basketball, I still wouldn't want to leave because of the wonderful family I have around.''

But she loves basketball, and IPFW loves her. The defending Summit League Player of the Year, Hyde averages 23 points a game and has a chance of being named all-American. She's had her best games against top competition, scoring 33 points against Indiana, 23 against Michigan State, 33 against Evansville and 35 against North Dakota State.

Despite her scoring, when IPFW coach Chris Paul gets on her it's usually for not shooting enough. She also averages 4.6 assists per game. About the only time Hyde is always looking at the basket is during her shooting workouts.

Because the Mastodons practice in the morning, she takes 100 free throws, 100 three-pointers and a few other jumpers for an hour each evening whenever there's not a game. She's a gym rat who can tell if anything is wrong with her shot before the coaches have a chance to.

``One of my dad's favorite quotes is `Quality not quantity,' '' she said. ``I used to roll my eyes at him, but now I know what he's talking about. It's relaxing for me. Basketball is the non-stressful part of my life. It gives me an excuse to get away from school for a while.''

Basketball is her joy, especially as she gets to play in front of her relatives. Her four grandparents -- Bud and Barb Hyde and Joe and Elaine King -- attend every home game, usually bringing a few other cousins, great aunts and uncles along. Mom and Dad show up, too.

Boyfriend Damieon Barrientos drives up from Ohio State for most home games, and even he's got a local tie as his father and stepmother have moved to Huntertown. Amanda's brother Nate and his wife Samantha also recently moved to Fort Wayne.

After each home game, Amanda takes a ton of food from her grandmothers home to roommates Stefanie and Rachel Mauk. Besides the assists during the game, those are the best dishes any roommate could hope for.

Sometimes Gates Sports Center feels like it's packed with family members.

``I have three families -- my mom's family, my dad's family and my basketball family -- and the amount of support is unbelievable,'' she said. ``I know it's nice for my grandparents and all my family who can get an opportunity to see me play, but I think I am benefiting the most from it. When you have grandmas who cook as well as mind do, you're set.''

Evan Damieon gets regular care packages.

A former high school valedictorian, Hyde is majoring in mathematics with a goal of becoming a college coach and maybe a high school teacher later. Playing is her joy, but she wants to be prepared for life's next phase because her college career is almost over.

She could not have designed a better college experience.

``It has worked out so perfectly that it was definitely meant to be,'' she said. ``In just a few short months I could be done playing basketball forever, and I have no idea where I'll end up, but I know I'll be giving up a lot more than most athletes.

``I'm going to be sad to move away from my grandparents,'' she said. `I'll probably be calling my grandparents, crying my eyes out.''