Jason Bowen

So many people are looking forward to tonight. Two people — two of the main characters — are not.

The first coaching battle between father-son basketball coaching duo Glen and Cole Hicks will play out tonight when Cole’s North Jackson Chiefs travel to play Glen’s Fort Payne Wildcats. Tipoff for the varsity boys game is set for approximately 7:30 p.m. following the varsity girls game.

While it’s fascinating theater for the rest of us, it’s a difficult situation for father and son, coaching legend and coach on the rise. They both hate to lose. But just as much, they hate to see the other lose.

“It’s going to be tough,” Glen Hicks said. “He’s my son, but he’s also my best friend.”

Glen is in his first season at Fort Payne after coming out of retirement in the Alabama education system. Cole is in his third season at North Jackson, where he’s already led the Chiefs to two of the school’s four all-time Jackson County Tournament championships and its only Northeast Regional Tournament appearance.

Cole worked as Glen’s assistant at Dade County High School in Trenton, Georgia from 2006-14, played for him at NSM from 1998-2003 and was a manager for many of Glen’s NSM teams.

Their teams have faced off during summer competition the past few years, but never when it truly counted.

“It feels weird playing [against] his teams in the summer,” Cole said of his father. “Who knows what it will feel like [tonight] when it’s for real. It’s mixed emotions. In one way it’s fun. But the other is I’m going up against who I learned everything from.”

Their family members are not professing their allegiance to one side or the other, but Cole knows whose side his daughter, Tenley, is on. “My own daughter is against me [tonight],” he said with a laugh.

Both believe it will “be another game” once it tips off, though Glen admits “it’ll be a little emotionally [today] and in pregame.” Both pointed out that the game is North Jackson vs. Fort Payne, not Glen vs. Cole. 

“If it was,” Glen joked, “there’s no way I could guard him.”

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