Longtime basketball coach Grady Hickman ever thankful _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS shot on 2--09. 00015727a. Mayor Kip Holden listens to residents' wishes. Grady Hickman voices his concerns and wishes for a Better Baton Rouge during a community forum with Mayor Kip Holden and his staff Wednesday at St. Thomas More Catholic Church.

Suffice it to say that I’ve had people call or email me with some unusual requests over the years. A voice mail I received Thursday piqued my interest.

It included a request I simply couldn’t refuse.

The caller said I probably wouldn’t remember him, but actually I do. Longtime boys basketball coach Grady Hickman called to say he wanted to reach out to former players, coaches and administrators he worked with over the years.

Hickman and his wife are preparing to move from Baton Rouge to California to be near family. Before leaving, the 73-year-old former coach wanted to deliver a message to those former players and co-workers.

“I don’t know if this is even appropriate,” Hickman said when I returned the call. “But I had the pleasure to coach some outstanding players over the years. And I’d like to express my gratitude and thank them for all their work. That still means a lot to me.

“I’d also like to thank all the assistant coaches who worked with me and the administrators who made it possible for me to coach and do the things I did all those years.”

Hickman started his local career in 1963 with a four-year stint as coach at Baker. He then moved to Istrouma for three seasons, where he worked with the legendary principal/coach duo of “Big Fuzzy” and “Little Fuzzy” Brown.

Next came three years at East Ascension, followed by a 10-year stint in private business from 1972-82.

“I started going to games again at East Ascension when Fess Irvin played there,” Hickman said.

“Butch Little was the EA coach, and he was a good friend of mine. Once I started doing that, I got that itch to coach again.”

Hickman followed current LHSCA Executive Director Gary Duhe at Redemptorist and won a Class 3A state title with the Wolves in 1984. He left Redemptorist in 1986 and finished his career with a six-year stint at Lee, taking the Rebels to the playoffs four times.

After he retired from coaching, Hickman continued to teach at Lee for a few more years. He purposely shunned the spotlight, telling two writers, Ted Castillo and the late Joe Planas, that he didn’t want a story done about his retirement from coaching.

“I wanted to blend into the woodwork,” Hickman said. “I didn’t want a big deal made about my retirement. And that’s not the point of this, either. As we’re preparing to leave Baton Rouge, I just felt like I wanted to find away to thank the people who were so good to me.”

Hickman made a second request, again asking if it was “appropriate.” He wanted to know if I could publish his email address, gradyhickman@me.com, just in case some former players or colleagues want to reach him.

Consider it done, coach Hickman.