Coaching legends Hicks, Scovel savor final Florida games before retirement
The Gulf Coast Lady Commodores are on the road to Lubbock, seeded fifth in the NJCAA Tournament with an at large bid and first round bye after a runner-up finish at state, set to play the winner of Hutchinson vs. Tyler on Wednesday, March 18 at 2:15 CT.
This whole playoff run is special for head coach Roonie Scovel and longtime assistant and mentor Grover Hicks, soon heading into retirement. Together, they've won six national championships at Gulf Coast...and so much more.
Hicks is a legend himself, winning a boys state championship at Laurel Hill and six girls state championships in eight years before hiring Scovel in 1990 while serving as principal. Hicks moved to the Florida Panhandle in 1967, leading Ruckel Junior High in Niceville to three county titles and a 35 game winning streak.
During Scovel's six years as Laurel Hill coach, the program earned a state championship in 1995 and runner-up finish in 1996, prompting her departure months later for Gulf Coast along with Hicks, who has stayed by her side ever since.
Having spent meaningful time in Okaloosa County, last weekend's FCSAA Tournament games were a fitting and nostalgic site for a Florida sendoff—for Hicks in particular.
"You have to understand what Coach Hicks has given to the game of basketball," Scovel said, "to the state of Florida, high school, middle school, junior college. He said ,'you know, when I go, there won't be another one like me.' He's kind of like a Pat Summitt. He just stayed under the radar in a small town."
While coaches, scouts, and fans always make their way to Scovel before and after games, perhaps even more folks stopped by to give their regards to Hicks at Raider Arena.
"Many of the people that played for him showed up," Scovel continued. "He has touched many, many lives. Definitely when he leaves the game, there won't be another Grover Hicks."