Glen Hicks’ hall of fame coaching career began like no other’s.
Just a 20-year-old three weeks removed from graduation in December 1976, Hicks took over the North Sand Mountain boys basketball team in January 1977.
Then NSM head coach Bethel Starkey had stayed on until mid-season so that Jim Kirby could hire Hicks. After three practices, Hicks led NSM into battle for the first time, getting a win over Skyline
“I’ll never forget it,” Hicks said.
Forty-two years later, Hicks’ head-coaching career has come to a close. The longtime NSM coach, who coached at two out-of-state schools before leading Fort Payne the last three seasons, is retiring.
It’s been an amazing career for Hicks, whose teams won exactly 750 games throughout his career. He coached those legendary NSM teams from 1990-93, the ones that frequently scored over 100 points in games. People came from all over to see the Bison bombard teams with 3s and layups and give the scoreboard operator a workout.
“After a (Fort Payne) game one night,” Hicks said, “we’d stop to eat. A guy came up and asked me if my name was Hicks? I said yeah and he asked if I was the Hicks or was related to the Hicks at NSM. I told him I was him, and he said he and some friends used to drive up from Birmingham to watch us play that ‘green team.’ I said ‘Skyline,’ and he said “that’s it.’”
Things at NSM weren’t all buckets and victories. The Bison struggled in some of those early years of Hicks’ tenure. But the program ultimately turned the corner. County titles, Sand Mountain championships, area crowns and trips to the state tournament followed. Years later he coached his son, Cole, and saw him set a then-state record for career 3s.
And it all started with a principal taking a chance.
“I asked Jim Kirby (years later) why in the world he took a chance on a 20-year-old right out of college,” Hicks said. “He told me two things. No. 1, he said he could see a little bit of me in him. And No. 2, he said he thought I could be special. I don’t know about that, but it did make me feel good.”
It was clearly the right decision. And it’s a decision Hicks will forever be grateful for.