Hickman does it all for Beallsville High School
BEALLSVILLE — Growing up, Casey Tolzda remembers bus rides with his dad, Scooter, and the rest of the Beallsville boys’ basketball team.
As a ballboy for the Blue Devils, the younger Tolzda saw some great basketball, but he also developed a relationship with another special young man — Troy Hickman.
Fast-forward nearly three decades and both Tolzda and Hickman are still part of the Beallsville community — Tolzda as the school’s principal and Hickman as, well, a jack-of-all-trades in the community.
Hickman is manager.
Hickman is a supporter.
Hickman is a cheerleader.
Hickman is a community booster.
Most importantly, though, Hickman is a friend.
“We kind of call him the mayor,” Tolzda said last week while taking in a Blue Devils football practice just outside town. “He’s not really the mayor, but he’s just sort of a community figure. All the kids, they just know it’s Troy. He loves the kids and he knows them all by name.”
That was evident at practice, where Hickman is really in his element. As the team’s “senior manager,” he’s responsible for water, equipment and other duties.
“I just try to fire ’em up a little bit,” Hickman beamed as the team took a water break.
And as for that water, Hickman likes to brag Beallsville’s water is the best in the valley. But, he’s biased, of course.
“We might only have 16 players, but they have potential,” he said.
And that, really, is Hickman in a nutshell — always positive, always looking at the brighter side.
“I can’t imagine football without him being out here and supporting us,” Beallsville head coach Rusty Lucas said. “And that infectious laugh he has, it’s contagious. It always makes you feel good.”
Hickman could be seen sharing a few playoff moments with the Beallsville coaching staff, a few of whom were running plays with the team.
“To me, he is Beallsville,” Lucas added. “He is Beallsville. He’s been here since I can remember. He brings a lot of pride. He brings a lot of heart. He fires up the boys in his own way. He does a great job.”
Hickman helps other sports teams at Beallsville, notably girls’ basketball, but he admits football is his favorite.
“I think Beallsville can do it every week,” he stated.
Starting with Dave Caldwell, Hickman has been the link to the Blue Devils’ chain of success, especially during the success of the 1990s.
“You can see old videos of Troy running down the sidelines waving a towel and getting the crowd pumped,” Tolzda said.
Hickman still does that today. While supporting Beallsville’s girls’ basketball team at last season’s OVAC tournament at OUE, Hickman even lent his support to neighboring River.
“He started running down the side of the court waving his hat and all the River fans just stood up and started cheering,” Tolzda recalled.
It’s moments like those that endear Hickman to community members, young and old.
“I think everyone who knows him says he’s just fun to be around,” Tolzda said. “He’s positive He just loves the school.
“If there’s ever a Blue Devil, it’s Troy Hickman.”
Tolzda and Lucas both believe Hickman does more for the kids and community than they do for him.
“The kids learn from Troy that no matter what you can persevere in life,” Lucas said. “There’s going to be obstacles in front of you all the time, but that doesn’t mean they have to get you down.
“Troy shows them that there’s an awesome side to everything. There’s a happy side. He shares that with others and it’s infectious. That’s how he affects the kids. He faces challenges himself and how he deals with those, (the kids) feed off that and they become positive themselves.”
Tolzda said he looks forward to his conversations with Hickman, knowing that he’ll always come away better for being part of them.
“He is Beallsville,” Tolzda stated. “He’s one of those people that’s been there forever, and I hope he can keep going for a long time.”
If you know of someone in sports in the Ohio Valley whom I could feature as an Ohio Valley Unsung Hero, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RickThorp1