What It Takes To Be a Standout Student-Athlete

September 20, 2018

field hockey

Q&A With King School Standout Student-Athlete, Riley Hicks (‘19)

By Wendell Maxey, King School Sports Information & Social Media Liaison

Before getting into the life of a student-athlete, can you share what attending and growing at King School has meant to you now that you’re a senior?

As I reflect on the past three years at King, I have grown immensely not only in my academics but in myself. I have only begun to realize the rare opportunity I have as a student at King.  At this school, you are challenged in every way possible and that challenge gives you the chance to rise up and become your best self.  Every year, my teachers, advisors, and the entire King faculty have constantly rooted for me to succeed. My teachers have always understood that every individual student is different. King’s approach to teaching is one of the components of my academic career that has helped me the most. Being able to have the flexibility to learn in an environment that is best suited for me is something I wouldn’t get anywhere else.

It’s one thing to be a student-athlete, but you’ve managed to balance school and sports as a rare three-sport athlete (field hockey, squash, lacrosse) and captain. What is the key to excelling in the classroom and on the field?

There are many factors that have gone into being successful both in the classroom and on the field. I would say that time management has been the biggest one. Between homework, studying, practices, and games, I’ve learned to find the right balance. Over the years, I have become adept at time management. I know that time is precious and it must be used wisely! Utilizing my time after practice for productive schoolwork has given me the ability to be a committed athlete as well as a committed student. Another key to excelling in both the classroom and on the field would be preparedness. You have to be as prepared to take a test and as you would be to play in a game. 

Recently, you were named a finalist for the Positive Coaching Alliance Triple Impact Competitor Scholarship program for making yourself, your team, and sports better across the board. What did you think when you first heard the news?

When I first heard the news I was surprised. There are thousands of applicants from across the country. I knew I had a chance because of the time and thought I put into my application and responses, but I never thought that I would actually be chosen as a finalist. I included true stories about my team and my own experiences that went along with it and that highlighted my application. One of these examples was being able to spend extra time helping a teammate work on learning the new position of goalie last year after a tough road game. She was feeling pretty down on the way back from the game, so we talked about a plan to help her improve. It started right when we got off of the bus. We went to a local field and worked together on techniques and taking the right angles. In the end, we both grew more confident from that moment and encouraged each other all season.

King Head Field Hockey Coach, Emily Prince said: “Riley works so hard for everyone around her.” Eric Joyner, the Strength & Conditioning Coach at King, exclaimed: “Riley is not only a great athlete and teammate, but a strong leader… I love her work ethic.” What has been your approach to putting the work in and getting better, both in your training and on the field?

My dad has always told me “you practice like you play.”  I’ve always known that if I worked hard in practice, then that would pay off in a game. It helps that I tend to be my own competitor. If your goal is to improve, there is only one way to get there and it’s with hard work.  That applies to my sports and my academics

So much of what makes King such a special school is not only the focus on academics and athletics, but also the on-going community outreach that takes place – whether it’s the work with the Harlem Lacrosse program or the King Cares 5K. How has giving back made an impact on you?

Community service is deeply rooted within the King community. Most of my peers have some sort of connection or participation in community service. The past three years, both the boys and girls lacrosse teams at King have been involved in Harlem Lacrosse. We have held bake sales to raise money and clothing and equipment drives. All of the fundraising culminates in the clinic we hold at our school in the spring. Even though raising money for an organization is a reward within itself, you never truly see what kind of impact your service has on an individual’s life until you experience it firsthand. The day of the Harlem Lacrosse clinic is what has made the most impact on me. When the kids arrive, they are blown away at not only our school itself but also its facilities and resources. The players from Harlem Lacrosse are ecstatic to play with us and the joy and excitement really goes both ways. The kids are always grateful for the equipment we give them and that is something I will never forget. It has made me more grateful and appreciative of all of the opportunities I have at King.

Your parents (Dan Hicks and Hannah Storm) have been very influential in sports broadcasting and journalism, and in being leaders in their field. What has been their greatest words of wisdom you’ve been able to apply over the last couple of years? 

My parents have been extremely influential and inspiring to me. Their hard work motivates me and helps me to understand that hard work truly does pay off. Whether or not we see it, the little things we do will at some point make all the difference. Their most inspiring wisdom over the past few years is to take risks. Taking risks applies not only to my academics but also to my competitions. The act of risk taking is the first step to doing something remarkable. You will never achieve anything if you play it safe. My parents have helped me to understand that success does not come easily and that only hard work and grit will get you there. Another piece of advice they continuously tell me is that the only person who can get me where I want to go is myself. I have to be the agent of change in my own life and no one else has the power to do so.

Senior year tends to fly by. What will you miss the most about King and your time as a standout student-athlete with the Vikings?

I have grown to love King more and more every year. This is a result of the growing appreciation I have for everyone who is a part of the community and the people who work to make this school so remarkable. I will miss the vibrant culture of the student body and the pride that we all have to be a part of this institution. I will miss representing King no matter the score; cheering for my friends from the bleachers; and being alongside other student-athletes who value both academics and athletics as much as I do. I will miss the teachers who are passionate and want nothing more than for their students to achieve greatness. Being a student-athlete at King has allowed me to pursue a competitive high school athletic career while maintaining a rigorous academic schedule, allowing me to grow both as an individual and a leader. 

The King School is an independent day school serving students Pre-K to Grade 12.

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