By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY For guiding the Livingston Manor Central School boys’ basketball team to its most successful season ever, Coach Charlie Hicks has been selected as the Sullivan County Democrat Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year.
Under Hicks’ leadership, the Livingston Manor Wildcats (16-6) reached the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Class D Final Four. The Wildcats lost to Section X and Region 2 champion Madrid-Waddington, 67-55, in a NYSPHSAA semifinal game on March 16 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
But on their way to Glens Falls, the Wildcats won the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI title with a perfect 6-0 record, the Section IX Class D title and the NYSPHSAA Region 1 Class D championship.
“This season was great,” Hicks said. “Last year, we lost the Section IX Class D title game to [John A.] Coleman [Catholic High School] and made it a goal for this season to get back to the championship game and win it.
“But after winning the [section] championship and going into the state tournament, we took it one game at a time and wanted to go as far as we could,” he added. “It’s great that we were able to get to the Final Four. It’s quite an honor for our players, the coaches, parents, school and community.”
Hicks, who will celebrate his 34th birthday next month, is proud of his players and the way they played all season.
“It was an amazing season and we had a great group of nine seniors leading us,” he explained. “Kenny Fisk, Mike Mills and Troy Correa have been on the team for at least three years. In fact, Kenny and Mike played on the team for four years. And Jon Davis was on the team for three years. So four of our five starters played on the varsity level for three or four years. All of these seniors did a tremendous job this season and we will really miss them next year.”
“A real key to Charlie’s success is how he brought this group of nine seniors up through the program with him, which culminated with Section IX and Regional Championships this season,” longtime Roscoe coach Fred Ahart said. “Congratulations to Charlie and the Livingston Manor team for their success this season.
Other local coaches who received consideration for Democrat Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year were Fallsburg’s Pete Dworetsky and Sullivan West’s Bruce Nober. Dworetsky led the Comets to a 14-6 record and the semifinals of the Section IX Class C Tournament. Nober guided the Bulldogs to a 12-7 record and a berth in the Section IX Class B Tournament. That represented a tremendous improvement from the 2010-2011 season, when the Bulldogs won just one game.
Hicks, who teaches social studies and English Language Arts to fifth- and sixth-grade students at Livingston Manor Elementary School, is in his ninth season of coaching the Manor varsity boys’ basketball team. He grew up in Neversink and graduated from Tri-Valley Central School in 1996. While at T-V, Hicks played for the school’s baseball and basketball teams. For both sports, he made the junior varsity teams as a freshman and the varsity teams as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Hicks then attended Orange Community College in Middletown for a year before transferring to Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake for two years. He played for the SCCC Generals basketball team during the 1997-1998 season.
Ahart credits Hicks’ basketball background with his success.
“Charlie does a fine job of understanding the game and understanding his players,” Ahart said of Hicks. “And he has a great deal of knowledge of the game from when he played at Tri-Valley for Coach Andy Taggart and at SCCC.”
After SCCC, Hicks spent the next four years at SUNY Cortland, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 2002. He began teaching at Livingston Manor Elementary School in September 2002. Soon after, he earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial Technology from the New York Institute of Technology.
What’s next for Hicks? He hasn’t yet made a final decision about returning as the Wildcats’ coach. Moments after recording his 100th career win in an OCIAA Div. VI game against Roscoe during the season, Hicks said he planned to take the next couple of seasons off in order to spend more time with his family. But with all of the success the Wildcats had this year, he is having second thoughts about taking a hiatus from coaching.
“I am sitting on the fence right now,” Hicks said. “I still have a lot of passion for coaching, but it’s a huge time commitment and I want to spend more time with my family. My wife, Amy, has been very supportive and said that the decision is totally up to me.”
Hicks’ family includes Amy; their sons, 4-year-old Anthony and 2-year-old Vincent; his parents, Larry and Annmarie; and his sister and brother-in-law Loni and Steve Molloy.
“I will play it by ear,” Hicks said of his decision about coaching next season. “I will make a decision when we start to have open gym this fall. A few weeks before basketball practice starts in November, we open up the gym for kids in grades 7 to 12 who want to come in and dribble the ball and work on their shooting. When we get to that point, I will know what I want to do next season.”
For the next couple of months, Hicks will help guide the Manor Lady Wildcats softball team. This will be the fifth consecutive season that Hicks and Kevin Clifford will serve as the team’s co-coaches. In 2010 and again last June, they led the Lady Wildcats to the NYSPHSAA Class D State Championship.
Hicks is grateful to everyone who helped make the 2011-2012 season so special for the Wildcats. He noted the great deal of support the team received from the school and community.
He also praised Assistant Coach Adam Larson.
“I really appreciate everything my assistant Adam Larson, who is also the JV coach, does for our program,” Hicks said. “He spends hours scouting other teams and preparing tapes of their games. On the bench during games, he’s always offering good advice and strategy. He really makes my job easier.”