COVINGTON, Ga. — It is no secret that high school athletes are faced with a tall task when trying to find ways to play their respective sport(s) at the next level.
Some make it to that point, while many others don’t. For those who do make it, a majority of them do not know where they will go until their final year of high school.
That’s not the case for Chandler Hicks, the Alcovy sophomore baseball standout who has already committed to play baseball at Alabama State University.
“It’s definitely humbling,” he said. “It puts everything in perspective about how many people get to move on to play college baseball, and for me to have that opportunity as a sophomore is one I don’t want to take for granted.”
Donning the number 11 in Alcovy black and gold, Hicks is a noticeable difference maker to his team, excelling as an outfielder and a catcher for Alcovy and his summer team, Team Halo.
In fact, according to PerfectGame.com, he is ranked as one of the top 100 catchers in the nation, and he’s considered the No. 10 catcher in the state.
These accolades quickly drew the attention of the Division I FCS Hornets, who, he says, made haste at jumping on the opportunity to bring him into the fold.
“The coaches there really intrigued me to want to come to their school,” he said. “They’re in the SWAC conference where they consistently win their conference every year, and they have had some guys drafted in the past two or three years.”
Not only did he note that his chances of future success are what led to his commitment, but the overall environment of the campus as well played a factor.
“I really like the atmosphere there,” he said. “The coaches know everybody personally, and that’s not something you can get everywhere. You have to find what’s best for you, so a divisional school like Alabama State being interested in me was a huge honor that I couldn’t pass up.”
While the feeling of already knowing what school he is going to two years in advance is one of relief, Hicks knows that this journey took time and a lot of patience.
He’s been playing on the baseball diamond since he was around 4 or 5 years old, and he recalls how going through each year has presented him new challenges as well as opportunities.
“Growing up, I was always like – I wouldn’t say the biggest, but I felt sometimes that I was overlooked,” he said. “Those 6 and 7-year-old kids who were bigger than me were hitting home runs off of coach’s pitches.”
When the size difference and other obstacles discouraged him at any point, Hicks knew he had to combat that discouragement by being the hardest working kid on and off the field.
“Keeping my grades up and keeping my level of play on the field up are things I pride myself in,” he said.
“I always try to stand out with the little things like base running, and a lot of people don’t like to pride themselves on defense, but I work on that. Every day I work on defense, sometimes more than hitting. I practice a lot on both sides because coming up, I think defense set me apart, but I was also recruited because of my batting.”
Hard work is only half of combatting obstacles, though. Motivation is the other half.
Fortunately, the grind Hicks puts in every day is met with equal push from his family and the many friends he’s made throughout his years on the diamond.
“My parents were always telling me to just stay in your lane and stay focused on what you need to do, and you’ll eventually get to where you need to be,” he said. “Seeing everyone I grew up with — a lot of people I play rec ball with go to school with me — and seeing them grow and having a relationship with them was another thing that keeps me going.”
As his sophomore season is beyond the halfway mark, Hicks remains focused on the present, and doesn’t let the thoughts about his future affect his play on the high school level as he is already seen as a key leader in the Tigers’ program.
Hicks knows that being a leader means turning off the mentality of bettering only himself, when he knows that his team needs him to help step up and improve as a unit.
“The next two years here, I’m trying to bring more of a winning culture to this school,” he said. “I also want to help make everyone around me better, too.”
With a team first mentality, and endless determination, Hicks will likely move up the prospect rankings and draw attention from more schools as he advances his high school career. For now, though, he is content with Alabama State being his future home even as Alcovy is his current home.