Sixth grader has hands full at Island Coast High football games

Sixth grader has hands full at Island Coast High football games 1
Sixth grader has hands full at Island Coast High football games 2

Craig Handel
 |  Special to Fort Myers News-Press

Who knows what job Chevy Hicks will have in the future.

The sixth-grader may never have a position as unique as the one he holds now.

On high school football Friday nights this fall, Chevy is a get-back coach. He tugs on the back of Island Coast defensive coordinator Vincent Papley’s shirt, pulls him off the field, and helps return him to the sideline so the coach doesn’t get a penalty from referees.

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Chevy, 11, is the son of Island Coast coach Elgin Hicks. He plays Pop Warner football and on Friday nights, he wears an Island Coast jersey with No. 22 on it.

“The first game against Lehigh, I got a sideline warning,” Papley said. “I was basically on the field, almost to the numbers. I’m just trying to call the defense and communicate with the guys when I hear a referee say, ‘Sir, you gotta get back.’ I’m also feeling this tug on the back of my uniform.”

When Papley saw Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay had get-back coaches, he realized he had to get one too.

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“Man, I’m animated, I don’t know where I’m at all the time,” Papley said. “I’m a fiery guy. I’m into the game. I love Island Coast, love our kids and would do anything for them.”

Chevy sometimes gets relieved by other youths or Island Coast players, but for the most part, the job is his. While it can be a bit comical to watch the 200-pound Papley pull him along, Chevy holds his own as he gets a handful of shirt and gives a good pull.

“Oh yeah, I feel it,” Papley said. “I feel like, ‘Man, my shirt is really right.’ 

“Other times, he’s talking to me, asking me, ‘Coach, you OK?’ I say, ‘Man, I’m all right.’”

When it gets to crunch time, Papley said Chevy is hyper vigilant. Rules allow coaches to go to the 10-yard line and the Gators’ defensive coordinator is right there, talking to his players as they try to stop a touchdown.

For all of Chevy’s efforts, Papley said he’ll have to give his protégé a Christmas gift.

“I gotta hook him up with something,” he said. “I’ll have to find out what he really wants. He’s been a treasure for me.

“By now, without him, I’d have a penalty instead of a sideline warning.”

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