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Coach back in business with Zebras

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Two Sac-Joaquin Section championships in nine seasons did not result in job security for Dan Hicks at Colfax High School. The girls basketball coach was dismissed after the 2008-09 season. “They never really give me a reason,” he said. “They said they wanted to go in a different direction.” Hicks has also traveled in a different direction. He has found his way to Lincoln High after being hired by athletic director Donna Tofft, who filled in as the varsity girls basketball coach last season. “I’m not done coaching,” said Hicks, who had looked forward to coaching his daughter, Danielle, at Colfax until he was let go. Danielle is a sophomore and plays for Colfax’s junior varsity team. “I’m going to miss her games,” he said, “but she said someone would tape them and I can watch the tapes.” Tofft welcomed a return to serving as the junior varsity coach and an opportunity to work with Hicks. Tofft is also keeping an eye on the new coach, Hicks said, as he learns all about the Zebras. Hicks expects to be tested by his players and judged by their parents as he navigates his first season at Lincoln. His coaching style may surprise a few folks because he tells it like he sees it. “Some of what I do can be misinterpreted,” Hicks said. “Parents hear the words, but they don’t get the message. The players get the message and ignore the words. They know what I’m saying.” That may explain why Hicks does not allow parents to attend practices. He has nothing to hide. Hicks simply wants his players to focus without worrying about what their parents are thinking. The basketball court might as well be a classroom for Hicks, who has been a teacher at Colfax Elementary for 30 years. When he is teaching his players, he expects their undivided attention. “If they’re not listening to me, they’re not going to get what I’m saying,” Hicks explained. “If a player doesn’t get it, they’re not going to play. I would rather play the girl who is paying attention.” The players were surprised in their first meeting with Hicks when he talked about summer workouts. One girl approached him after the meeting and said, “We don’t play basketball in the summer.” The Zebras will as long as Hicks is their coach. A summer program is essential as far as he is concerned. Hicks knows what it will take for his team to be successful. He was a basketball coach at Colfax for 20 years, including 11 with the varsity boys team. He treats girls the same as he did boys. “I don’t treat girls basketball players like girls basketball players,” he said. “I treat them as athletes. Some of the parents tell me that’s what their daughter needs. Some say they are still girls.” As Hicks gets to know his players, they are getting to know him. “They’re working hard and doing a very good job,” he said. “They’re really engaged.”