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December 05, 2016

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December 05, 2016

Please don't submit copyrighted work; original poems, songs or prayers welcomed. reviews all Guest Book entries to ensure appropriate content. Our staff does not correct grammar or spelling.

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 Memories & Condolences
This Guest Book will remain online permanently courtesy of Timothy M. Petersen.
September 13, 2016
"Coach Hickman," was a natural born leader and knew the nuances' of coaching. Small towns have their merits and some can be difficult, but we were fortunate to be among many leaders and great coaches that had positive influences on students growing up in Ajo. Coach Hickman was indeed one of them. He had the grit and was tough when he needed to be, knew when to push and when to back off. He challenged you as an athlete in ways that got your attention without creating total humiliation. And many have had that experience along the way, one way or another. He could be wrong, but would challenge you to make it right. If you failed he worked with you to help you grow from those experiences. Make no mistake he could take you down a notch or two if needed, but always found a way to build your confidence back up. He had a welcoming smile and had a way with people. Some of the best moments I recall were moments off the field. He taught real life situations that connected with his students. He taught us respect for nature, for one another and also respect for a worthy opponent. I remember being thrust into difficult situations where his influence, his demeanor personified made a difference in the final outcome.

One such instance occurred during a track meet intermission between the preliminaries and finals, still dressed in my red and white track uniform I decided to hoof it home for lunch. It was 1973. I was a senior in high school. I had just finished up qualifying in several preliminary events in an annual Invitational track meet hoisted by Ajo and lead by our Head Track Coach John Hickman.

On my way home crossing Solana Avenue a yellow school bus passed by as I was trotting across the road. A kid in the very back of the bus reached his partial body out the window and yelled, gesturing I was number 1 with his middle finger. Insulted, I paused... as the bus pulled away. For a moment I thought ...No..., then decided to give chase.

I had run up Solana many times trying to get in shape during the summers, but this was probably one of the quickest mile times I had ever run in Ajo and I wasn't a Glen Hoppe, Pete Manual or the Machine. ..Poncho Arroz ..all miler. I am sure Coach Hickman would have been pleased. I know it was faster than any of my Coach Kush's miles run prior to Camp Tontozona. (and those were pretty intense)

I trailed the bus up main until it made the turn passing the old Texaco gas station across from the A and W drive in.
Losing ground, winded I gave in at that point and the bus pulled away. Just then a grey Chevy 1955 Bel Air Coup approached me from behind. It was my twin brother Rob and teammates Felix Vega and Richie Rubio cursing main on the break. They asked me what the heck I was doing. Sucking wind I did my best to explain. They said get in. Rob spun the positive track in hot pursuit gaining ground on bus as it headed out of town.

The bus passed Sotello's one of Ajo' s favorite Mexican restaurants and began to gradually slow down. It traveled a quarter mile further down the highway, then pulled off to the right into the Dairy Queen's rugged parking lot, and stopped abruptly. The brakes set hard exhausting a blast of dust into the air ..the bus door swung wide open. Buckeye Head Coach Roberts the only one to exit the bus walked over to the outside counter to place an order for his team. Rob, Felix, Richie and I all climbed out of the 55, all dressed in our Red Raider colors walked up to the buses open door. I was leading. It was my fight. A moment Coach Hickman might not have condoned, but would reinforce, as he instilled in us as a teacher and a Coach respect. I stepped up onto the bus's first step and glanced into the driver's eyes, they were as big as saucers.

There was total silence now. They had to have seen me trailing, especially the driver in his rear view mirrors. I gathered my nerve nodded to him without say a word, and made my way through the center aisle to the very back of the bus. I turned my attention to the rear seat on my right and introduced myself to the athlete with poor judgment, who had mistakenly announced to the world I was number one in my home town.

As I walked down the aisle I knew my opening line better be good. Without a doubt it had to be good. I thought about Coach Hickman our Coach and what he might say face to face with in such a situation. I knew he would be stoic and thoughtful in his approach. He might began with our opponents name, "Buckeye," That was appropriate. So I began Buckeye.

Buckeye, and led in with, " Is one of our most respected opponents here in Ajo. The closest in our division and one of the toughest competitors the Red Raiders compete against, but more importantly I want you to know this; when you are in Ajo, you are our guest and you can ... expect to be treated with respect. " I paused for a moment and thought to myself... now what Coach? With inspiration I said: " I want you to know this too when you are in Ajo we to expect the same." I then looked directly at the athlete in the back seat and asked if he agreed? He nodded, and unexpectedly reached out his hand to apologize. I accepted his apology shaking his hand. I turned around feeling good about the outcome expecting to see my brother Rob, Felix and Richie right behind me, backing me up, but they weren't there. The hair on the back of my neck stood up like a Rhodesian ridgeback. I walked out of the bus just as I came in in dead silence, but with a solid feeling of mutual respect from 60 Hawks on the bus.

As I exhaled and exited the bus there was Rob, Felix and Richie in uniform standing at attention, hands behind their backs, like Red Raiders, military guards, starboard alongside a protected ship in harbor. Quite an impressive sight ... 1 will admit only today, but I glared at all of them with contempt. They broke formation and we began to walk back to the car. We passed Coach Roberts who paused just for a moment to ask, "if everything was alright?" we politely said, "yes sir," and we all began to board the 55. As Rob shifted from reverse to first, second and before he could hit third; I lashed out at them, emotions fueled. I bellowed out, "I thought you guys were right behind me for Christ sake." In a collective response they said that they were ... chuckling. "If you didn't come back out we were prepared to turn the bus over. Turn the bus over! I shoutedThe raw adrenaline was still pumping, but began to slow and then relief forced one of those memorable Hickman smiles of; your right, you knuckle heads, ... thanks."

In closing, to the Hickman family, please accept our sympathy and belated condolences. I will never forget our time together in Ajo, your loved one, Our Coach and his influence as a teacher on and off the field, nor the man who had tragically lost an eye in his youth. A man who saw it as it was and a man we called Coach, Coach Hickman. God willing we look forward to see that smile once again.


Timothy M. Petersen
November 2, 2015
John was just part of everyday life in high school. Great memories of both of you. Praying for you Bertha and all of your family. Hugs, Sherry

raying for you Bertha and all of your family...Sherry
October 31, 2015
I was only in Ajo for a short time but Mr. Hickman was one of my favorite teachers. May God be with his family .
October 31, 2015
I was only in Ajo for a short time but Mr. Hickman was one of my favorite teachers. May God be with him and his family .
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