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Retired Mohawk College athletic director Wesley Hicks reminisces

Wesley Hicks started working at Mohawk College when the school first opened in 1967. 

When he started, Mohawk College’s Fennell Campus didn’t even have a main building. 

“When I started in ‘67 our offices and everything were in the Dundurn building,” Hicks said. “It was amazing how this college grew, and it still is growing. I had the pleasure of being involved in that growth. It was fun and it was challenging.”  

Now retired, Hicks was the school’s second athletic director and coached a variety of sports including basketball, cross-country running and curling.   

He also played a major role in developing the rules of how sports would be run throughout Ontario’s colleges.  

“I was vice president of the Ontario College Athletic Association,” Hicks said. “All the athletic directors met, and we developed the constitution, the playing rules. All those types of things. That was a lot of fun.”  

In the early days, before making the constitution, recruiting players from other teams wasn’t an option.  

The athletic directors had to compromise on this, as some opposed signing players from other schools. Hicks was one of the people who voted for recruiting players.   

“I always said a student is a student. I always voted that they were eligible,” Hicks said.   

Back when Hicks was a coach, he coached sports that aren’t varsity sports today, including skiing and bowling.  

Hicks coached a basketball team in 1970 that he says was the best basketball team ever at the college. The team won four Ontario championships. 

A colored photo of an old basketball team that used to play for Mohawk College.
Hicks [pictured in the brown suit] was known for bringing his children to the games. [Son pictured bottom right]
“It was the first team to play universities,” Hicks remembered. “We beat them.”  

Former assistant coach David Bartolotta said he considers Hicks to be a good friend.   

“I thought that highly of him to become my daughter’s godfather,” Bartolotta said. “He was very knowledgeable, very patient, he was intense. But not to the point where it was detrimental to the team.”  

Bartolotta started as one of Hicks’ athletes. He then became his assistant coach, and years later replaced Hicks as coach.  

“When I took over for him, I didn’t have much work to do,” Bartolotta said. “You know, he had prepared me so well that I found stepping into the coaching ranks was an easy transition.”  

Hicks has two children, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. His daughter and a couple of his grandkids carried on the family tradition and became coaches. But that’s not a surprise, considering how early they started.

“Another good part about him, which I like, he brought his kids with him to a lot of the games,” former basketball player and current friend Larry Snaidero remembered.  

Snaidero said that Hicks had high expectations for his team.  

“We practiced every day,” Snaidero said. “If we weren’t practicing, we were playing. Everybody knew what he wanted, it was good.”  

Hicks continued to coach basketball after retirement until a recent injury. He helped coach his grandchildren’s basketball teams at Sir Allen MacNab Secondary School.  

“I’ve always been involved in coaching and when I wasn’t coaching, I was watching my kids and grandkids play sports,” Hicks said.   

After a long coaching career, and his involvement in developing the athletic department, Hicks now visits the college in his spare time to watch basketball games and use the school gym. 

“I come over and watch the basketball games and practices,” Hicks said. “I was over at the Hall of Fame committee meeting, and I stay quite involved, but only as a spectator now. “  

Hicks, Bartolotta and Snaidero still hang out with former players and coaches to play cards and talk about old memories. 

After years of being a coach and mentor to athletes, Hicks remembers the time with a smile.  

He contributed to the evolution of varsity sports in Ontario, and he dedicated his time to athletics and student life at Mohawk College.  

“I always believed this: the best day of the week for me was Mondays,” Hicks said. “So I could get back to the college and do my job.”  

 

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