Sometimes the little guys play with the biggest heart. Gate City sophomore running back Robbie Hicks is a football player in that mold.
The 5-foot-9, 149-pound running back leads the Blue Devils in rushing with more than 600 yards, despite Gate City struggling after the exodus of more than a dozen seniors from the 2011 season. The brutal schedule (a hallmark of the program) has been particularly unkind to the Blue Devils, beating them up well in advance of tough Clinch Mountain District losses to John Battle and Virginia High.
It’s been a tough year for Hicks as an individual. Late in Friday’s loss to the Bearcats, he came out with what might be his second concussion of the season. He’ll be sitting out of practice on Monday until his doctors figure out his playing status.
A natural speedster, Hicks is a member of the Gate City track and field team, where he competes in the high jump, long jump, hurdles and sprints. He attended his first VHSL Group A state track and field meet in Radford last spring, placing fifth in the long jump before his day was shortened by an injury in the 110 hurdles.
The 2012 campaign has been a rugged one for all the Blue Devils, not just Hicks. But he is still brimming with confidence that the future is bright. Most of his contemporary teammates played with him on a very successful eighth grade team upon which he served as a running back. They know what it’s like to win. And they will win again.
“The effort has been there. We have confidence in ourselves. We know that you can’t replace 12 or 13 seniors easily,” Hicks said. “This is our rebuilding season. I think we’ll be all right.”
Robbie did a Q&A with Sports Writer George Thwaites:
Who is your favorite athlete, past or present, and why?
Usain Bolt. It’s a real simple answer, actually. He’s so much faster than everybody. I’ve always kind of looked up to him.
What is your favorite movie, and why?
“Remember the Titans.” It kind of reminded me about when my dad played football. It was a real inspirational movie. It made me want to play football.
What is your best athletic memory?
I’m not sure. Probably going to the state in track.
Your worst athletic memory?
Back playing eighth grade we lost to a team called Princeton. We got beat 36-0 by them. I came into the game thinking we were going to beat them. It was the only game we lost and we thought we were going to be undefeated.
In a movie about your life, who would play you?
Sean Astin. I’ve just always liked the movie “Rudy.” He was kind of small, which I kind of am. And he had a good work ethic, and I think I do, too.
If you were hosting a dinner party, who would be your three ideal guests?
First one would obviously have to be Jesus. Maybe Jim Brown. And Usain Bolt.
If you could have one superpower, which would you choose?
Lightning speed, probably. I guess that’s what you’d expect to hear from a running back.
Do you have any superstitions or pregame rituals?
The only one I’ve got is that I always pray before the game.
Do you have a nickname?
Not really. I never really did have one.
What is your favorite non-sports activity?
I like playing guitar. I play in a praise band in worship services at Salem United Methodist Church. Sometimes we play at other churches or just get together and play where people want to hear us. The band is called “Dayspring.” We play old hymns sometimes, with a mix of contemporary Christian music.