Show you care. The one thing I’ve never seen replicated in sports

Hickman Wildcats - cropped 1998


David Hickman is a name well-known in Victorian basketball circles. He is a club founder and 48 year volunteer of the Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club, one of the largest junior sporting associations in the world.

He’s received many accolades over the years for his tireless work over so long, contributing to the sport of basketball and to countless young people’s lives that have passed his way, including an OAM for service to sport.

This January his club honoured him with the naming of The David Hickman Court at their home base, Eltham High School. The unveiling was held on the eve of the Australia Day weekend’s annual junior tournament, a tournament that he started, and was about to see 10,000 players, 1000 coaches, 450 referees, take part in 2,500 games across the weekend. I was there and it brought back some amazing memories.

‘The David Hickman Court’ was a fitting tribute, as rarely a day went by that you would not see him patrolling the court, one eye on the control centre, the club’s office, one eye on his ‘team’ of 20 plus kids he was instructing. Of course he coached so many teams that he often had to run multiple team’s training concurrently.

David was always at the club. As part of his 60th birthday present our team put in for a doona blanket for him, that he could keep in the office, so that he could sleep overnight at the club sometimes, and ensure the engine always ran smoothly. (Or at least that’s how the story went at the time). Nothing was more important than the club, and what it provided for so many people.

I’m only one of thousands of kids that David has coached throughout his time at Eltham, but my time most closely associated with him also coincided with some of my most cherished basketball years.

I’d always marvelled that he could rattle off names and stats of players from years and decades earlier as examples to motivate and instruct us. I looked forward to being one of those players one day.

David was the coach the night of my greatest ever game, as I helped lead our team to a Grand Final win in the 1998 Sale Easter Tournament (I’m the spikey-haired Number 43 above if you hadn’t guessed). I’ll never forget coming off at half-time after hitting five three-point shots and getting a ‘hi-five’ from David. It was not his usual way to express that sort of emotion. I also remember him telling me I would have been awarded the MVP of the Grand Final, if they’d given one. This stuff sticks with you.

Another unique aspect of my time around David that I hadn’t thought about for a long time, was the peculiar ritual our team would adhere to before, during and following games and trainings, involving putting our hands in together and shouting our rally cry.

This was not an unusual practice in itself, almost every team would huddle together and shout ‘1, 2, 3 Wildcats’ Or ‘1, 2, 3 Defence’ But ours was different from anything I’d heard before, or since.

David instructed us to yell ‘1, 2, 3, CARE!’

Now, we were 17-year-old boys, and often times basketball took a back-seat to posturing, trying to impress girls or friends on the sidelines, and generally looking cool. This rallying cry did not help with that.

Yelling out ‘care’ was dorky. My friends would tease me, but over time it became something we were proud of. A way to differentiate ourselves from the stock-standard, almost robotic team communications. But beyond that, I certainly didn’t understand the deeper meaning behind the word. Looking back, how suitable it was.  It’s perfect and can apply to so many areas of life in general.

Care about your performance

Care for your team

Care for your coach

Care about sportsmanship

Care about how you are perceived

Care about the contest

Care about who and what you represent

If you want to compare it to the opposite. Imagine playing  or working with someone, against someone, who doesn’t care.

What a great lesson. You could be flashy, loud, skilled, intense or even winners or losers. But all David really wanted us to show was that we cared.

My work today helps teach young people to manage their online reputations, and to use today’s technology to showcase their character, and build up a positive online identity.

What it really comes down to is showing the world that you care. That you care about how you are perceived, about standing for something positive, about offering something of value to your online community, and generally about growing into a respected human being.

I could write forever about the times that David Hickman showed me he cared, for his sport, his staff, his players, for me and his community in general. He is the personification of care. A great coach, and a great person.

Follow me on Twitter at @RyanMobilia here or connect with me on LinkedIn here.

NOTE: Here is a screen grab from the first time I shared this article on my personal Facebook. The 27 shares from my page led to some amazing comments across the web, and right here below on this blog! (Share your own below if you’d like that would be great) David’s positive impact has reached so far.


7 thoughts on “Show you care. The one thing I’ve never seen replicated in sports

  1. Michele says:

    Thank you Ryan, well said, our family also has very fond memories of David Hickman. I remember also he used to have a ‘power nap’ under his desk?? A doona is a great present, very suitable.
    We also share many years and many hours spent at Eltham Basketball with 5 children playing through the ranks, beginning in under 8.. And going onto seniors!
    Thank you for the reminder, and a very fitting reward to continue naming the court, that’s awesome!
    A very generous and caring gentleman, his memory will live on & on.

  2. Christine Day says:

    Hi Ryan, it brought tears to my eyes reading your summary on the great man David Hickman, especially the bit about CARE. I too have been involved in the club for many years, however David has not coached any of my children in that time (though your sister has!).
    I have worked alongside David in a voluntary capacity (still do) and I too recall the power naps, the quick trips out for Chinese takeaway, his superhuman memory for names and references to past players used as encouraging examples – boys who had risen from team 6 to team 1 !!!!
    The vision of David Hickman and Rob Hill locked away in a meeting room with buttons and bottle tops working on fixtures for the Eltham Tournament is a sight to behold…. damn sure none of the parent volunteers ever understood what was going on!!
    I believe the image of that old man shuffling from court to court, clipboard in hand, scouting for talent MUST be imprinted on the brain of every Eltham basketballer and their family.

    1. Ryan Mobilia says:

      Hi Christine, thanks so much for sharing this great comment! It’s been amazing to hear other people speak about David and his impact to me, since I published this. As I mentioned, there were so many other positive stories I could have told, he’s reached so many people. 🙂

  3. Dean Easton says:

    I registered my son to play in the Australia Day tournament 2017 today and the reply I got from email was from David Hickman.
    He opened the email with “it is nice to hear from you again Dean”.
    The last time I spoke to David was 37 years ago when I was a 15 year old Eltham Wildcats basketballer.
    The word “legend”is bandied around way too often which sometimes lessens the achievements of true legends
    David Hickman is a true legend and a person I always had enormous respect for.
    I can’t wait to catch up with him in six weeks time

    1. Ryan Mobilia says:

      Dean, what a message and comment. Speaks to the character of the man, and to think he was around the club then, and is still answering the office phone now. I’d love to share your comment on my social media platforms if you’ll let me? Cheers Ryan

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