Laurel Hill names basketball court after former principal, coach

Ashleigh Wilde
Crestview News Bulletin

LAUREL HILL — Laurel Hill School recently named their basketball court the Grover Hicks Jr. Court to honor the school’s former principal and basketball coach.

Hicks spent 26 years from 1970 to 1996 at Laurel Hill School where he served in multiple capacities. During his time at the school, Hicks served as a teacher, a coach, the athletic director, the assistant principal and principal.

“The appropriateness of his initial start and truly the bulk of his career as an educator was here at Laurel Hill, but so much of it involved athletics,” said current Laurel Hill Principal Lee Martello. “He truly built a life in education here that involved every aspect of the school.”

From 1970 to 1980, Hicks served simultaneously as assistant principal and head boys basketball coach. During that time, he led the team to six district titles, four regional titles and one state title in 1975.

In 1980, Hicks became the school’s principal and also began coaching the girls’ basketball team with Betty Howard. Hicks led the team to four straight state titles from 1981 to 1984 and added two more state trophies to his resume in 1987 and 1988. According to the Orlando Sentinel from 1988, his streak of four championships in a row is a state record.

“His impact is multifaceted,” Martello said. “I think the community sees him as a leader, not only academically in the lives of children, but also athletically, showing that being involved in a sport can change a student’s life in a positive direction.”

The school held a ceremony for Hicks and the naming of the court recently. Hicks, who now serves as an assistant coach for the Gulf Coast State College ladies’ basketball team, was in attendance.

Hicks could not believe how many people showed up to show their love and support for him.

"I was surprised because I was not expecting on a Tuesday night, on a school night to have the number of people there that we had,“ Hicks said. ”I am very humbled that people would take time and effort to honor me.“

Looking back on his time at Laurel Hill School, Hicks said one of his favorite memories is growing the girls’ basketball program.

“You were blazing a trail like you were a pioneer,” Hicks said. “A lot of it was fun but a lot of it was nerve-wracking too. We initiated the program from scratch and it grew to be one of the better programs in the United States. We won a lot of games and had a lot of sweet memories.”

Though he has been in Panama City working with the Gulf Coast State College team since 1996, Hicks said he still keeps up with what is going on at Laurel Hill School. He also added that Laurel Hill will always hold a special place in his heart.

“They have been a part of my life for many years,” Hicks said. “We made our lives there and my kids graduated from high school there. I’ve always loved Laurel Hill. It’s the place I call home.”