Photo: Phenix City’s Tommy Hicks was inducted into the Alabama Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame Sunday night during the organization’s awards banquet in Montgomery. Hicks became the 20th sports writer to receive the honor. He is currently the Editor of both The Call News and The Washington County News, weekly newspapers near Mobile, and a columnist for The Citizen of East Alabama. Pictured left to right are: Ken Shugart of AL.com in Mobile; Randy Kennedy, formerly of the Mobile Press-Register and AL.com; Carly and Trish Daugherty, Hicks’ Mobile family; Julie Hicks, wife; Tommy Hicks, Hall of Fame inductee; Dean Hicks, brother; Kim Hicks, sister-in-law; Maren Hicks, daughter; and Mitchell Whittaker, Maren’s boyfriend.
By Mark Clark
Randy Kennedy spoke in measured words. Not because he feared he would say the wrong thing, but rather, he feared he might leave out something important of what he wanted to say about the 2018 inductee into the Alabama Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Kennedy, formerly of the Mobile Press-Register and AL.com, had the honor of speaking on behalf of the association as it inducted Phenix City native Tommy Hicks into its Hall of Fame.
“The thing that impresses me the most about Tommy is not all the great stories he has written about the great events he has covered during his career – the Super Bowl, the Masters golf tournament, college football, all of those type events. What impresses me most is that Tommy puts in the same effort to write about a 12-year-old playing baseball or any other local event. He truly cares about his community. He even still cares about his hometown newspaper where he got his start in writing.
As he sits here tonight, I know he is thinking about getting a column to that newspaper in less than 48 hours. He does not have to do that. He just loves doing that,” Kennedy said.
Hicks is the Editor of two weekly newspapers near Mobile, The Call News and The Washington County News. He has twice won the ASWA’s top award, The Herby Kirby, and has been named the Alabama Sports Writer of the Year three times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. During his career, Hicks has worked for The Citizen of East Alabama, The Selma Times, The Montgomery Advertiser, The Anniston Star and The Mobile Press-Register before taking his current position with the two local weekly newspapers. He has won numerous Alabama Press Association and other awards for his writing. He has written books about the Alabama football program twice and one on the inaugural season of the University of South Alabama football. Hicks is the radio sideline reporter for South Alabama football.
Hicks did not intend to get into sports writing when he headed to college at Troy State University in 1973. He intended to major in art and go into advertising. He quickly saw there were a lot of artists better than him – “and Troy wasn’t even an art school,” he said. That admission led to a conversation with his father, Elroy, who suggested his son try sports writing. Hicks took the advice and obtained a double major in arts and journalism at Troy.
The decision to take his father’s advice to heart has led to a long and very successful career.
Hicks told a story during his induction speech about taking his daughter, Maren, along on a day off to play golf with some friends. He was not hitting the ball well and grumbled following each shot along the course. After listening to her father grumble as he played, the then five-year-old Maren looked at her father and said, “Daddy, why don’t you do something you are good at?”
“I do what I am good at every day. It is what I love to do. I write and enjoy every minute of my work,” Hicks said.
He then went on to give an emotional speech in which he singled out family, friends and peers.
“I would not be where I am right now without each of you in this room tonight and without the many sports writers around the state. You are my family and friends. You will always be. I am honored and humbled with this recognition. Thank you, all of you,” Hicks said.
Hicks is the first sports writer to be inducted into the ASWA’s Hall of Fame since 2013. The last inductee was Ron Ingram, now the Director of Communications for the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Ingram was a sports writer for several newspapers around Alabama before retiring to take his current position.
The other ASWA Hall of Fame members are: Benny Marshall (1983), Zipp Newman (1983), Bob Phillips (1983), Sam Adams (1986), Alf Van Hoose (1989), Naylor Stone (1989), Ronald Weathers (1992), Bill Lumpkin (1993), Jimmy Smothers (1997), Bill Shelton (1997), Jimmy Bryan (2000), Bill Easterling (2000), Clyde Bolton (2001), Jerry Bryan (2002), John Pruett (2003), Wayne Martin (2006), Charlie Hollis (2008) and Kirk McNair (2012).