Hickam-Cruze named ‘coach of the year’

Whitney Hickam-Cruze, left, coaches a Hardin Valley Hawks softball player during a game at home during the 2015 season. Hickam-Cruze was named Prep Xtra Coach of the Year. When Whitney Hickam-Cruze became softball coach at Hardin Valley Academy seven years ago, she set out to build the Lady Hawks’ program from scratch.

It took seven seasons of ups and downs but Hickam-Cruze and the Lady Hawks finally saw their hard work pay off in 2015. Hardin Valley won its first-ever District 4-AAA and Region 2-AAA Championships and made an appearance in the Class AAA State Tournament.

Recently Hickam-Cruze, who saw her team rewarded so handsomely, was named Prep Xtra Coach of the Year.

She may have received a high honor, but she’s giving credit to those around her.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said of being named Coach of the Year. “But when you have a special group of girls like this, it makes your job easier.

“I never had to harp on them or yell at them for not playing hard. We have a great team chemistry and when you think about this team, the word that comes to mind is resilience.”
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Standifer at home in Rocky Top League

Drew Standifer, right, a King University basketball standout drives the ball against a Marshall University player. Drew Standifer spent the summer doing what he loves and that’s playing college basketball in his hometown.

“I love playing in the Rocky Top League,” said Standifer, a 2012 Bearden High School graduate who will soon begin his senior year at King University in Bristol. “I’m playing close to home and it’s good to have all those people come out and see us play.

“And it’s at [Knoxville] Catholic High School, so it’s just a short drive down the road from my house.”

King University is an NCAA Division II School but the Pilot Rocky Top League gives Standifer and other small college players the chance to play with and against some top Division I players and some former college standouts that now play professionally overseas.

“It’s a great chance for me to play against some UT guys and when you play against those players, it makes you better, even though those players aren’t exactly playing super great defense.
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Dover named new Farragut Boys Soccer coach

Ray Dover is no stranger to the Farragut High School boys soccer team. And he’s glad to be coming home.

“I’m excited,” said Dover, who was recently named to replace Wallie Culbreth as the Admirals’ soccer coach. “I’ve got to meet with the players, work on the schedule and do the adm-inistrative things. I’ve got to hire my staff. It’s a busy time.

Dover replaces Culbreth, who coached at Farragut for 14 seasons and won four Class AAA State Championships. The new coach knows that he has some big shoes to fill.

But he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“The truth is that these are the jobs you want,” said Dover, a 2000 Farragut High School graduate, two year starter and team captain on the soccer pitch. “At Farragut, it’s a disappointment when you don’t win a State Championship and nobody has higher expectations than me, not any parent and not any administrator.”
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Rocky Top League for Watts, his ‘basketball fix’

Brent Watts is and has always been a competitor. He was once a basketball star at Farragut High School and went on to be a standout at Maryville College.

His playing days are now over. He’s now a business owner and family man but basketball remains close to his heart and for the last eight summers, he’s returned to the game he loves.

Since 2008, Watts has coached in the Pilot Rocky Top League. Watts, who coaches Campus Lights and guided the squad to a league championship in 2014, is one of four coaches (including Chad Smith, Pat Walden and Rick Campbell) to coach in the fan-friendly summer league since it began in a hot Bearden High School gym.

“It’s just nice and it leads to me paying more attention to high school and college basketball during the season,” said Watts, the 1997 Farragut High School graduate who recently opened Logo Braces, a company that manufactures ankle braces. “The league has given me the chance to interact and have a personal interest in so many different players.”

It’s also given Watts the chance to compete again and while coaching in the league, he’s coached the likes of Armani Moore and Dane Bradshaw among others.
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