PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Joel Hicks coached Pulaski high school football for over 20 years, winning more than 200 games during his run. The legendary coach passed away on Saturday at the age of 81.
“He was a great football coach, but he was a great mentor a great friend,” said Scott Vest, athletic director for Pulaski County High School. He was coached by Hicks as a student and grew up to work alongside him.
WFXR Sports spoke to Coach Hicks back in 2020.
“It’s a great feeling of trying to put out a good football team, but I also come from a county that seems like they appreciated it too,” he said.
Aside from 210 wins, one of which was a state championship, Vest says Hicks also invested his time in the Special Olympics at Pulaski County Public Schools. He also introduced a weightlifting program to the schools.
“We didn’t have a lot of success in football until Coach got there in 1979, and almost immediately things just turned around,” said Vest. “Coach’s first year he went 9 and 3, got into the state playoffs, beat the number one team in the state, GW Danville in the playoffs, and things took off from there.”
Coach Hicks retired in 2002 but was inducted into the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame in 2016. The Pulaski High School football field was also named after him, and he was coach to Gary Clark, who would go on to play in the NFL.
“All of us that played for Coach, those of us that worked with Coach, remember Coach as demanding hard working and certainly expected the same from his players and coaches,” said Vest. “I could talk for hours here, I think about what Coach has done and what he meant to our community not only football but just as a person.”