E.A. Sports Today

On the move

Oxford’s Hicks leaving for ‘unbelievable opportunity’ at Pinson Valley involving three varsity sports

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Winning state championships is a lot of fun, but at the end of the day there is more to a coach’s life than what goes on between the lines.

Matt Hicks won two county, two sectionals, two state duals and two state championships – basically the single-season Grand Slam twice – in his two seasons in charge of the Oxford wrestling program. But Thursday he left that part of his legacy to become the head wrestling coach, head softball coach and football defensive line coach at Pinson Valley.

Oxford wrestling coach Matt Hicks won two county, two sectionals, two state and two dual titles in his two seasons with the Yellow Jackets. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Hicks told East Alabama Sports Today Thursday night. “There are a lot of very attractive things about the position. At the end of the day I just thought it was a better situation for me long term and a better situation for my daughter (and her softball future) as well.”

It’s a similar set of coaching jobs Hicks held at St. Clair County for seven of the nine years he was there and the same opportunity he turned down a year ago when offered by the Pinson Valley principal who hired him at Leeds. In addition to being Oxford’s wrestling coach, he was the Yellow Jackets’ junior high football coach and junior varsity softball coach.

“It’s well documented what kind of athletes they have in football (at Pinson Valley) and it’s a varsity football opportunity,” Hicks said. “Bo Nix, their starting quarterback, is committed to Auburn, there are a lot of other players surrounding him and it’s a varsity football opportunity.

“A lot of people don’t realize I played college football – I’m a football guy. From a football standpoint to go from the seventh and eighth grade team at Oxford to a Friday night opportunity at Pinson is appealing.”

Football may have been the carrot, but wrestling is his niche and he acknowledged “we’ve got some work to do there” to bring that program back to its previous success.

The two Class 6A state championship Hicks won at Oxford gave him five state titles in eight years with three different schools. His wrestling teams never finished worse than fifth in the state after his first year at St. Clair County.

And he’s not leaving the cupboard bare at Oxford, either. In fact, he calls it “absolutely loaded” and several high-quality coaches are said to have already expressed an interest in the job.

Hicks stepped into an existing quality situation at Oxford he attributed to predecessor Matt Tanner and took it to the next level. He leaves the Yellow Jackets with a solid base to remain successful, especially in the lighter weight classes, as well as a strong feeder system.

“You’re not going to find a better wrestling situation than what I had at Oxford,” Hicks said. “The facilities, the kids, the parents are second to none. The wrestling community will probably look at me like you’re the biggest idiot who walks to earth (to leave that), but my whole world lives at my house.”

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