Senior Spotlight: Hicks ready to take flight at Naval Academy despite baseball letdown

He had big hopes for this spring season, and bigger ones for later in the year.

David Hicks’ future is now his main focus. The present, spanning the here and now in prelude to the last months of his scholastic experience, is currently an empty slate the Pottstown High senior is looking to fill with meaningful entries.

“I’m lost in emotion, thinking it’s the last time I will walk through halls of Pottstown,” he said.

Hicks was looking forward to one last go-around with Pottstown’s varsity baseball team this spring. He was part of a core of six seniors — Jacob Eagle, Brandon Gebhard, Cole Miller, Darion Miller, Josiah Wiggins — on whose shoulders rested the Trojans’ hopes for improving on their 3-15 finish in 2018. But the COVID-19 pandemic has denied them that opportunity while the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

“It was tough,” he said of learning the news. “One thing for me is the ability to take the field and have one last season. Pottstown finally had a team.”

That could have been Hicks’ final go-round in youth baseball. He received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy as part of its Class of 2024; and the requirement to attend “plebe camp” in June, prior to the start of his freshman year at Annapolis, would have precluded Hicks from returning to play American Legion baseball with the Pottstown Steelers.

He had given thought to the possibility of walking on to the Midshipmen’s baseball team.

“Everybody has to play at least one sport at the academy, varsity or club,” he noted.

Pottstown great Bobby Shantz, center, poses for a photo with Pottstown players David Hicks, left, and Jimmy O’Donnell. (Thomas Nash – MediaNews Group File)

The main focus of his time at Annapolis will be with obtaining a regular Navy commission as an ensign, and pursue studies toward a degree in aerospace technology to the end of becoming a pilot.

Hicks received his appointment to the Naval Academy from Rep. Madeline Dean, the U.S. representative from the Fourth Congressional District that encompasses Pottstown. He joins Don Lash (Army), Job Price (Air Force Academy) and John Karpinski (Coast Guard Academy) as service academy appointments from Pottstown.

“I want to be a pilot,” David said. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was a kid.”

David will be the third generation of Hicks men to serve in the Navy. His paternal grandfather, David Sr., was a damage control specialist on a destroyer during the Cold War era, and father David Jr.’s service time was marked by his selection for pilot training.

He’s also seeking a venue of camaraderie, a traditional part of the service-academy experience. It was something he hoped to draw from in his final go-round at Pottstown High’s Shantz Field.

“It hasn’t totally hit me,” he said. “One of the things that hit me is camaraderie. That’s the thing I’m searching for.”

Hicks’ involvement in baseball began his third-grade year, with the Pottstown Little League. He then moved up to the organization’s Minor National level, playing for a team that finished third in its league.

From there, Hicks played at the Majors level on a team sponsored by the Montgomery Elks that finished second. It was around that time he went through a growth spurt that made him one of the bigger players in his age group.

“I started hitting home runs around then. That was fun,” David said.

Pottstown baseball player David Hicks is headed to the Naval Academy. (Submitted)

Following participation with the 11-12 Rangers American Legion Prep baseball team, Hicks spent two seasons with the Pottstown Baby Steelers Junior American Legion program before moving up to the Steelers.

Along the way, Hicks established himself as a pitcher. Despite being nicknamed “Wild Thing” — a reference to the character Charlie Sheen played in the movie “Major League” — David found the position to his liking.

“One thing I find as a pitcher is the competitive atmosphere,” he said.  “I wanted to find a mindset. I have no trouble finding a calm but fighting spirit.”

Hicks also made a name for himself with the high-school football program. He was a three-year varsity performer, going two-way at guard and defensive end, and was a team captain his senior year.

For the remainder of the school year, Hicks is going online to do his advanced placement (AP) courses in English, calculus and biology as week as career and technical studies in engineering. He’s also waiting to find out how Pottstown will handle the diploma distribution to its Class of 2020 graduates, hoping the school will be able to conduct a group commencement ceremony.

“I’m hoping it happens,” he said.

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