By Kevin Wilson
Editor’s Note: This is a periodical series about former area athletes and what they are doing now.
Katheryne Hickman probably figured basketball would only take her as far as Eastern New Mexico University. Instead, her basketball career has taken her from San Antonio to Portales to Georgetown.
Georgetown, Texas, that is.
Hickman, who played for the Zias from 1997 to 2001 and finished as the No. 5 all-time scorer for ENMU, is currently an assistant coach at Southwestern University, a Division III school in Georgetown.
The opportunity to coach wasn’t one the former Zia expected, nor was it one she wanted to pass up.
“I was actually not planning on coaching,” Hickman said. “I was planning on going to graduate school, but then I received a phone call in the summer.”
At the other end was Kerri Brinkoeter, who was preparing to take a job at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas. Brinkoeter, a former assistant at Kingsville, needed an assistant and remembered Hickman.
“I had met Kat when she was still in high school (Castle Hills H.S. in San Antonio),” Brinkoeter said. “When the job came open where I needed an assistant, I thought of her.”
It wasn’t hard to remember Hickman after her senior year, when she averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 rebounds and vaulted herself into fifth place on the Zia scoring list with 1,234 points.
“We had trouble scoring (that year),” said Wayne Moore, the former Zia coach who coached Hickman all four years. “She had to carry a big load for us and she did a great job. She was an excellent outside shooter. I’m sure when she gets to be a head coach, her teams will shoot really well.”
The 6-foot post might have ended up even higher on the scoring list had her acid reflux disease been discovered before her junior year.
“What happened is that my vocal chords were shutting because of the acid, so it was causing breathing problems only when I exercised.
“Before we figured out what was wrong with me, I could only play two to three minutes at a time. After we controlled it, I could definitely play longer.”
Hickman said the condition was treated with medication and changes to her diet — she had to stay awake three hours after eating and couldn’t have water during a game.
She never wonders about what could have been, because the Zia scoring record was “never a goal.” Instead, she focuses on being a coach.
Brinkoeter and Hickman coached for one year at Blinn, which, coincidentally, was the freshman year for current Greyhound Kennis Green.
The two are currently in their second year with the Pirates, who were 11-8 coming into Friday’s game against Southern Collegiate Athletic conference rival DePauw University.
Brinkoeter has felt all along that she made a good choice for an assistant.
“She is an amazing coach, especially for our post players,” Brinkoeter said. “She does a great job.”
Hickman, like Brinkoeter, planned on continuing her education but ended up coaching instead. Time may tell if she becomes a head coach like Brinkoeter did.
“I’d like to be a head coach eventually,” Hickman said. “I don’t know a timeline. I do want to get my Master’s within the next five years.”
Brinkoeter thinks Hickman can go as far as she wants as a coach, and noted that she is making several contacts with her second position at SWC. As part of an NCAA women and minorities internship, she is also the assistant sports information director at Southwestern.
Wherever she ends up, Moore is confident that one of his “all-time favorite” players will be successful.
“Katheryne is really easy to be around,” Moore said. “She knows the game extremely well. I don’t think there will be anything that will be hard for her to handle.”