No Bad Days

Hunter Pinke sheds light on having a positive outlook on life despite the tough days

Garrett Webber, Reporter

The Delta Gamma Foundation and Everson Family Lectureship in Values & Ethics was held this past week at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. The keynote speaker at this event was a household name in the State of North Dakota, Hunter Pinke. For those unfamiliar with Hunter, he is a former UND football player from Wishek, ND. This was Hunter Pinke’s first time speaking at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, an opportunity that he was incredibly grateful for. Pinke played tight end for the Fighting Hawks for four years. In 2019, Pinke was skiing in Colorado, where he unfortunately collided with another skier, which caused him to slide headfirst into a tree.  

For many, this is where the story might end. For Hunter, however, it was just the beginning. Pinke explained that he inexplicably feels more confident now, paralyzed in a wheelchair, than he did standing 6’6” and playing Division 1 Football. Pinke shared stories of his life before and after the accident, and his energy reflected this sentiment. Both sides of Pinke’s story were filled with an intense passion that I could feel from across the auditorium, but it felt a little different when he spoke about his life now. There was a distinct contrast in the way Pinke approached his everyday life before and after the accident. This is not to say that Pinke hadn’t accomplished anything significant before the crash, though. Pinke was in nearly every club and sport that he could do in high school, earned Valedictorian honors, and played Division 1 football while pursuing his education in mechanical engineering. The conviction that Pinke spoke with, however, whether telling stories of his recovery at Craig Hospital or his shift in thinking afterwards, was overwhelming. The former Division 1 athlete spoke about how at Craig he not only learned how to physically live with his circumstances, but mentally as well. While Pinke was talking about his time at Craig, he brought UND defensive lineman Elijah Beach to the stage to roleplay his interactions with nurses at the hospital. Before he began his lecture, the Wishek native stated that he was not here to give the audience motivation, because he believes that motivation is temporary. Pinke, however, said that if he was able to inspire just one person in the crowd to shift their thought process in a positive way, then he would be successful. 

Pinke said that if there was one thing to take away from his lecture is that “there’s a difference between a bad day and a tough day.” Pinker says that his joy does not depend on his circumstances, and that he refuses to have any more bad days. “No Bad Days” has become Pinke’s mantra, and he showed throughout his lecture that he lives by it every day. Pinke talked about three truths in life that he reminds himself of every day. First, that everybody, himself included, is still here and breathing. Secondly, that life is filled with choices. Lastly, that he is loved. Hearing a man who once seemingly had it all, only to suffer a horrific accident, speak about how lucky he is to be here, have the choices he has, and feel the love he feels was uniquely powerful for all in attendance. During the Q & A period following the lecture, Pinke had a heartwarming moment, shaking hands with a young boy who recently suffered from cancer that caused him to lose his leg. In high school, I listened to many public speakers, some of which came off as narcissistic, taking themselves extremely seriously. I speak for everyone in the crowd that day when I say that Pinke is not like these people. Hunter Pinke has a mission to positively impact as many people as he can, and it’s clear that his heart is in the right place. 

Pinke is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in architecture at the University of Arizona, where he recently played in the national championship game of college wheelchair basketball. Pinke explained that he plans to move back home once he graduates in the upcoming Spring. Pinke stated that home is not a place but that, “home is the people that fill it, and I am forever grateful to be from here.” When asked about his future goals, Pinke said that besides winning a national championship in wheelchair basketball, he hopes to one day start a family and to continue being impactful in people’s lives. For more information about Hunter Pinke’s story, visit and @pinkespeaking on Instagram. 


Garrett Webber is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].