Taking the long road

Local family works the Final Four and four kids at once

By Stephanie Dolan  

J.D. and Cindy Hamilton were both freshmen at the University of Indianapolis when they met on a double date.

She was the other person’s date,” J.D. said.

You can say it worked out for the Franklin Township residents. They’ve been married for 23 years – 24 in July – and they have four children at home. They each work, and they both take care of their family.

What makes their story different from 1,000 other Southside families? The Hamiltons adopted two children, and they recently took in two girls that they fostered previously. J.D. works for the NCAA and often travels for the job, leaving Cindy, a kindergarten teacher, to wrangle all four children on her own.

 

J.D., left, with his family: daughter, Ashley, 10, son, Jeremiah, 3, and wife, Cindy. (Submitted photos)

Playing the game

J.D., who has been with the NCAA for 16 years, is the assistant director of media relations and statistics. He just returned from another work trip to New York. Upon his arrival, the family plans to celebrate their older foster child’s 18th birthday.

This is one of a few trips that J.D. makes throughout the year. He also travels for a week for the college football championship, two-and-a half-weeks for the NCAA basketball tournament and three weeks for the College World Series.

“I’m helping press get credentials, setting up interviews with student athletes, making sure athletes get to press conferences and providing media with statistics they need to write their stories,” J.D. said. “So, we’re doing a lot of research to help them to do their jobs.”

J.D. runs a project called “The Car Wash.”

“It’s this thing where our student athletes get interviewed by networks like ESPN, CBS Sports and NCAA.com,” he said. “We’re moving students from room to room to make sure they get to the right interview on time.”

But all of this activity is just practice for the job J.D. has at home as dad.

Let me have a turn at the mic! Ashley and Jeremiah practice sports broadcasting as their parents look on.

Being a family

“The travel does make things a little more difficult for sure,” Cindy said. “Especially with the addition of the two new foster kids. Right now, I took some leave time from work instead of trying to figure out things for transportation. But we do have an awesome support system.”

The Hamiltons are members of Southport Presbyterian Church.

“Our church has been fabulous with helping with transportation and even meals,” Cindy continued. “Our family helps out with a lot of that stuff too. Thankfully, J.D.’s longest trip is in the summer, and we can all just go with him.”

The Hamilton’s younger foster child is 11, and their two adopted children, Ashley and Jeremiah, are 10 and 3, respectively.

“It definitely takes a village for sure,” Cindy said. “Especially when you foster, I think. When your family suddenly grows by two kids, it throws a whole new dynamic into your family. Overall, I think we’ve fostered about 17 kids.”

The Hamiltons have a heart for fostering and want the children living in their home to know they are loved and safe.

“Our goal is to give these children a period of time where they’re loved and feel comfortable and safe while all the other stuff with the parents – while all the other judicial stuff is being taken care of.”

While the fostering experience has had its ups and downs, it has not been without reward.

“The two girls who are back now – six years ago they left us,” Cindy said. “We were crushed and heartbroken. Six years later, they’re back. In between times, we got our daughter and son and adopted them. It’s been quite a surprise.”

“It was a good Christmas gift,” J.D. added.

J.D. and Cindy adopted Ashley and Jeremiah. Jeremiah was three weeks old when this photo was taken. They are fostering two other children at home: Jazmyn, 18, and Victoria, 11.

Coming together

Soon enough, J.D. will be back on the road for the college basketball championship – the Final Four. This year, the tournament is being held April 6-8 in Minneapolis at the U.S. Bank Stadium.

“It’s a thrilling job,” he said.

“This is fun for us,” Cindy said. “The kids do like to watch for him during the games. One year, he made it into the ‘One Shining Moment’ montage at the end of the tournament. He’s always standing on the court at the end of the championship games. For me, as a basketball fan, that was pretty cool seeing my husband up there for that.”

“I’m very lucky,” J.D. said. “Because of my job I get a seat better than (former) Vice President (Joe) Biden had. It’s just fun – you get to have these amazing experiences like taking photos with Michael Phelps. But it’s not about who they are – the celebrities. It’s just fantastic that I get to work with students and give them the greatest time of their lives. They experience something that not many people get to do on the national stage. We make sure they get to experience that without any hiccups.”

J.D. added that some of the more noteworthy tournament experiences included Goren Hayword’s winning shot at the 2010 Final Four and being in Indianapolis when Butler was in the Final Four.

“And, a couple of years ago in Villanova, Chris Jenkins hit the game-winning shot to beat North Carolina right in front of me,” J.D. added. “That was pretty neat.”

But, in spite of all the perks of the job, the Hamiltons always come back to family.

Field of Dreams: Ashley and Jeremiah enjoy their surroundings
while attending the 2018 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I’m very lucky to have a very supportive wife that allows me to do what I want to do,” J.D. said. “God’s blessed us with great families and friends who help us out.”

“We’re just very blessed,” Cindy said. “J.D.’s job has a lot of fun perks for our family. It allows him to be a blessing to friends and family who come to events. He loves that.”

“I also have great coworkers,” J.D. said. “They understand what’s going on with us. There’s events going on and running around, and we’re just blessed to have great coworkers and friends and family.”

5 questions with the Hamiltons

Who or what inspires you the most?

Cindy – I think it’s Jesus Christ. How we look to God to do the job he’s given us and taking four kids – at times it’s trying. God’s called us to serve, and he’s going to equip us and provide for everything.

J.D. – Jesus Christ is first and foremost. We think we’re just doing what God’s given us to do. People think it’s amazing, and we just do what we think we’ve been asked to do. I agree with Cindy. Our whole story is not something we would have written or chosen. It is written by God, and it’s amazing to us.

What are you currently reading?

Cindy – I am reading a book called Age of Opportunity – A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp.

J.D. – I’m not a reader. Not books anyway. I’m an internet junkie – just reading articles. I read a lot of stuff – just what’s going on pertaining to my job and politics and current events.

Do you have any pets?

No pets – we used to have bulldogs. We would like to get another dog, but with four kids, it might be too much.

What are you most looking forward to within the next 30 days?

Cindy – We’re looking forward to spring break.

J.D. – For me, I really enjoy the Final Four.

What do you love most about your spouse?

Cindy – I will say that JD is a huge people person. It’s one of the things I love the most about him, but it also drives me crazy. He’s great and super generous and is so good with just trying to help people out and do fun things for them. At times, he can’t say no. He’s a super awesome people person and really serves other people well.

J.D. – Cindy’s our glue. She just takes care of all of us. Not many things slip through the cracks. She’s always thinking about what needs to be done. I just appreciate that about her. Another thing I take for granted is that I’m lucky to have a loving wife who puts up with all my mistakes and I greatly appreciate that.