WAUKOMIS, Okla. — There’s nothing quite like being home again.
“It’s a very good feeling,” Allen Hicks said.
The Enid native returns to Garfield County as the new Waukomis head boys basketball coach. He spent the last 11 years teaching and coaching in Glencoe. His transition back to Enid has been a good one, despite the usual hectic off-season that comes with being a varsity basketball coach.
“But we’ve enjoyed it,” he said.
Hicks holds a strong connection to Waukomis. It’s where he went to school for seven years, and it’s also where he met his wife, Beki. The two met in eighth grade and have been together ever since. They married three years after Beki graduated high school in 2004.
“I guess you could call us high school sweethearts,” Hicks said.
Hicks has always been dedicated to his craft, no matter where coaching has taken him. But coaching back home just feels different.
“It energizes you,” he said. “Because that’s where you’re from. You got a little bit more invested in your hometown and you want to see this school succeed and our basketball team succeed.”
As an assistant with head coach John Lazenby, Hicks helped Glencoe win three consecutive Class A state championships between 2013 and 2015. During Hicks’ 11 years on staff, Glencoe took seven trips to the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds for the state tournament.
“It was an exciting time and I hope to bring some of (those) same results to Waukomis,” he said.
The Chiefs’ haven’t made it past the Class A regional tournament in the last four seasons. Their last winning record came during the 2015-2016 season when they finished 16-9. The Chiefs have won 10 games in the last two seasons, finishing the 2018-2019 season with a 9-17 record.
A state tournament run, let alone a championship season, doesn’t happen overnight. A culture needs to be established within the team, the school and the community.
“A big part of it is having guys who are talented enough who can play,” he said. “We had a lot of talent in Glencoe and I believe that Waukomis has talent, too. We’ll see what these boys can do and see what they’re made of … Hopefully, we can translate that over to these boys at Waukomis.”
Hodges receives helping hands
Derick Hodges learned pretty quickly just how supportive the Waukomis community can be.
On a typical, sweltering Oklahoma summer day, with the temperature in triple digits, Waukomios’ new head baseball coach was outside working on his field. He’s not one to shy away from hard work. But on this day, a little help would be a blessing.
So, he sent out a text asking for a helping hand.
“One text turns to 12 and they put it out into the community,” he said. “I had a bunch of guys show up and it was just a great thing. To see guys show up and help me get the field looking how I wanted, and get their hands dirty — it’s just been a very welcoming community.”
Hodges’ learned Waukomis is willing to help in any way it can. When he needed sprinklers for the baseball field, Waukomis “jumped on it.”
“We’re trying to make a difference over here and turn this thing around,” he said. “I think the kids will be excited to see a nice, rye grass infield.
Hodges spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach in Hobart and a year in Texas. Hobart went to the state tournament in Hodges’ first season and was a game away from taking a repeat trip the season after.
This will be his first head coaching job. He takes over for Koy Hughes, who is now coaching at Garber.
“Waukomis seemed like the best fit,” he said.
The Chiefs’ have turned in one winning season in the last four years and made it past the district tournament just once.
Hodges, who will also serve as an assistant coach with the Lady Chiefs’ fast pitch softball team, still has plenty of work to do before the spring season. But his expectations are bright.
“I think it’s going to be a good deal,” he said.