Rounding the Bases with John Hicks
John Hicks has been one of Virginia’s hottest hitters of late. The freshman from Sandy Hook, Va., is riding a career-best 11-game hitting streak into the Cavaliers’ game with Norfolk State Wednesday night. He is hitting .368 and has three home runs and 17 runs batted in. The road to UVa was not so smooth for Hicks, though. A torn ACL suffered during his senior year of high school football wiped out all but three games of his last high school baseball season, but he has bounced back nicely and been a key contributor to Virginia’s great start. Today he sits down to discuss that as well as a wide array of other issues.
You are currently on an 11-game hitting streak. Hopefully bringing it up doesn’t jinx it, but what has been going right for you?
Hicks: I’ve been seeing the ball well. We do some BP before practice and games every day, and I’ve been trying to get in good work, and seeing the ball off the tee and trying to drive it and trying to get the inside part of the ball. If the pitch is away, I try to drive it that way.
You have seen some action at a couple positions this year catcher and now some first base.
Hicks: I want to do whatever I can to help the team. Catcher has always been my position, so I feel a little more comfortable behind the plate. I’ve been taking a lot of ground balls over at first, so I have gotten better over there. It’s definitely different.
What is so different?
Hicks: When you’re catching you don’t have to worry about ground balls. It’s not bad. I enjoy being out there and I want to help the team however I can.
What has the experience been like for you in your first year?
Hicks: It’s been great. The guys on the team are really close and we all hang out a lot. The older guys are always there for you. Since we don’t have cars, they always come to pick us up. We have a lot of fun together.
Why did you choose UVa?
Hicks: A couple reasons. It’s close to home, so my parents can always come up and hang out and see me. Another thing is the coaches here were amazing. I committed pretty early in my junior year, and the coaches talked to me all the time and were asking how I was doing. That told me pretty much everything I wanted to hear.
How has your knee been feeling after suffering the ACL injury during your senior year of high school?
Hicks: It’s been feeling really good. When I originally hurt my knee, I talked to our trainer here, Brian McGuire, and I kept in touch with him and he helped me get set up to do rehab in Charlottesville at a performance place and the guy I worked with was amazing. I always had B-Mac checking up on me and making sure I didn’t go back and play high school ball too early. I felt like I was ready in about four months, but they held me up to about six.
Tell us what it’s like to room with Steven Proscia. He is a pretty unique guy, so it has to be an interesting experience.
Hicks: It’s an adventure every day. It’s actually pretty fun with him being from New York and me being from Goochland, a small country town. We have our differences, but we have a lot of fun together.
How has the transition been for you coming from a small town to a big university?
Hicks: It was definitely a big difference the first few weeks. I got used to it pretty quick. Baseball was obviously the best thing because it helped me meet a lot of guys.
The coaching staff loves players who also played football in high school and have that “football mentality.” What do you think the correlation is between football and baseball?
Hicks: I definitely think there is a big correlation. Football is a really physical game and catching is one of the more physical positions in baseball. Football is a team game, and that carries over to baseball. You count on your teammates and feel that they are going to come through for you.
What do you like to do outside of baseball?
Hicks: I really like to hunt. Just like everybody else, I like to hang out with my friends and family. I love football, not that I play it anymore.