Since he started in the sport at the age of 5, Golden’s Will Hickey has hardly taken any time away from basketball, and it’s fair to say that he remains as passionate as ever about the sport.
Now, as a 24 year-old third-year guard for the Lethbridge College Kodiaks, Hickey is on his way to Hamilton to compete in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s national championship tournament, a right that he and his teammates earned with a triumph at the Alberta championships last weekend.
In the semi-finals a win was required in order for the Kodiaks to qualify for the national tournament (Alberta is sending two squads to the championships this year).
A 90-86 double overtime victory over Olds College was every bit as intense as it sounds on paper.
The Kodiaks held a sizeable 13-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, a lead they squandered in the game’s final moments when their opponents connected on a rare four point play (a successful three pointer plus a foul shot). It was a devastating turn of events.
“I think we were a bit shell-shocked. We didn’t expect them to come back at us that hard. But we kept it composed near the end” said Hickey, who also serves as the Kodiak’s captain.
After the first overtime solved nothing, the Kodiaks scored nine points in the second OT period to their opponent’s five to punch their ticket to Hamilton.
In the finals, Lethbridge stormed out to a 24-10 lead in the first quarter against Medicine Hat and never looked back, finishing strong with an 87-68 win.
“The college hadn’t won the (Alberta) championships since 1994 so it was a big deal to get a banner and a gold medal…it’s a bit surreal,” Hickey said, while also recalling how his Kodiaks had come within two points of making the nationals the year before.
Listed at 6’0”, Hickey isn’t the tallest basketball player you’ll ever meet, but says he has achieved his success through simple hard work and determination.
“I spend a lot of time in the weight room so I’ve built up my body to be strong to play against the bigger guys and I’m fairly quick for my size as well,” he explained.
He began playing in the Golden Basketball Association when he was barely older than a toddler and credits the program for fostering his passion for the game.
“It started my love for basketball, playing every day. I built friendships through it,” he said.
“I’d say GBA was the best thing for me basketball-wise.”
Of course, Hickey’s parents – Terry Hickey and Naomi Maisonneuve – deserve plenty of credit as well.
“I’ve had a lot of support to keep playing from my parents and family. They know it’s what I love and have always encouraged me to take basketball as far as I can,” he said.
And now the game has taken him all the way to Hamilton and the national collegiate championships.
The tournament will take place from Mar. 18-21, with Lethbridge taking on the Vancouver Island University Mariners in round one.