New coach, new aspirations: Tommies’ basketball prepares for new era

Peter Jewett/AQ

There will be a new face on the sidelines of Tommies men’s basketball games this season, but it’s a face familiar to many basketball fans across the Fredericton area.

John Hickey, longtime high school basketball coach, referee and Fredericton area representative for Basketball New Brunswick’s board of directors will be at the helm of the St. Thomas University men’s basketball team this season.

“Being involved in practice and games and being around a team, it’s fun,” Hickey said.

“It’s a lot of fun to build those relationships.”

Hickey accepted the position in April and said he is ready to get the program up and running. He is filling the shoes of Scott MacLeod, who coached the Tommies for 19 years before stepping down this past spring.

Hickey said he’ll be able to adapt to the Tommies’ style of play quickly.

“The attributes that St. Thomas possesses as a program … tend to fit the qualities of the teams that I tend to coach,” he said

Hickey coached the Leo Hayes High School varsity boys’ team for fifteen years. He can be seen regularly officiating STU and UNB games or high school games across the province.

St. Thomas athletic director Mike Eagles said there was a lot of interest in the position but Hickey’s experience coaching at the high school and provincial level made him the ideal candidate.

Eagles is excited for Hickey to grow the program.

“He has the technical knowledge to be a successful coach at this level … he’s super motivated.” Eagles said.

Hickey gives partial credit to his new job at STU to a personal connections with women’s basketball coach Fred Connors.

Personal connections for Hickey at STU don’t stop with Connors. Hickey’s team includes three players he’s previously coached. Garan Davies, Daemen Hemphill and Ian Watters have all been coached by Hickey as a part of Basketball New Brunswick’s summer provincial teams.  

Hemphill chose to play basketball at STU this season because of his past connection with Hickey.

Hemphill said Hickey is intense, strategic and straight to the point.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Hemphill said.

“He knows how to make everyone around him better.”

Hickey said it helps to have players on the team who know his coaching style.

“We’ll be an intense group, who works hard, who defends hard … and we will be a high-character team.”

He said he looks forward to matching up with other ACAA teams.

“I think we’re going to be right in the middle of it … I’m excited to take a shot at these teams. I think it’ll be fun.”

Hickey said the team is going to defend hard, be aggressive and play fast.

“We’re going to be fun to watch,” he said.

“We’re going to work our butt off.”