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Reese Hickey To Start Soccer Career At The University Of Findlay

Maumee defender Reese Hickey was surrounded by (from left) his mother Colleen Hickey, grandmother Sonia Eischen, brother Connor Hickey and grandmother Susan Reichert when he signed to play soccer at the University of Findlay back on April 12. MIRROR PHOTO BY DENNY McCARTHY
Maumee senior defender Reese Hickey intercepts a pass to Napoleon forward Brett Lauf during an October 24 district semifinal game at Lake. The All-Northern Lakes League Hickey will participate in his first practice as a University of Findlay Oiler on August 14. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Usually, when an athlete is featured in a newspaper article, the piece is full of individual statistics that visibly back up his or her accomplishments on the field of play. But sometimes there is not a lot of data available, due to the fact that anticipation, ball control, communication, game knowledge, hustle, position, temperament, toughness and quickness are not always easy things to measure. Such is the case for 2017 Maumee graduate and current University of Findlay Oiler Reese Hickey. Sure, it could be pointed out that the 6-foot-2, 170-pound cornerback recorded more than 100 steals during his two years as a Panther, but that alone doesn’t explain what made Hickey so successful on the soccer field. “Reese has a heart and a half playing soccer,” said Maumee boys soccer coach Doug Everhart. “He has a knack at being first to the ball and being a very aggressive and hard-nosed player.” The son of Alex and Colleen Reese and big brother to Connor Hickey, Reese has been playing soccer since the age of 4. He started out as a forward on his local recreation teams but switched to defense while playing for the Patriots during his sixth- and seventh-grade years. “My club coach decided to try me out as a defender and I fit right in and have been playing there ever since,” Hickey said. Having also played football in the seventh grade and exclusively participating in football and track as an eighth-grader, Hickey returned to soccer as a freshman at Genoa. After playing on the Comets varsity team as a freshman and sophomore, Hickey transferred to Maumee to live with his father. As a Panther, Hickey joined a senior-laden team as a defensive alternate, where he helped his new team to a 6-9-3 record and a trip to the sectional championship game. While his 2017 team scored just two more goals than it did the prior season, it showed vast record improvement at 11-7-2. This enhancement was due largely to the fact that Maumee played with just three defenders back, and Hickey, junior Lucas Krist and sophomore Sam LaChapelle accounted for about 80 percent of the time back there. “I felt that our back three were strong enough to hold our opponents, and that allowed us a lot more time to play in the middle of the field and on the upper half,” Everhart said. Senior Hunter Thomasson, junior Jeremy Fradette and sophomores Konner Byers and Adam Diegel combined with Hickey, Krist and LaChapelle to help the Panthers hold opponents to eight fewer goals than they had the previous year. “I think it had to do with a little bit of experience, but mostly our consistency to stay focused on the game each and every game,” Hickey said. “I also think when we realized we were going to be playing only three back, we knew it was time to step up and play the game.” Hickey’s individual improvement stemmed largely from the fact that he kept his “enforcer” status on the field without committing as many penalties. “When he first started, he was trying hard to be a very physical player, but he lacked the discipline,” Everhart said. “Over the winter months and the summer, he worked very hard on stepping up and being an individual that could play with some discipline. “That was probably the biggest area he improved on, learning ‘Yes, I can be physical, but I have to be smart.’” After defeating Bowling Green, Bowsher, Central Catholic, Clay, Fremont Ross, Start, Wauseon and Whitmer, Maumee closed out its regular season at 8-6-2 after a 4-1 loss at Napoleon. During that contest, senior forward Brett Lauf scored all four of the Wildcats’ goals – a fact that the third-team All-Northern Lakes League Hickey and the Panthers certainly noticed. Six days later, Maumee began its postseason Division II tournament with another 2-0 win over Central Catholic. Two days after that, the Panthers took a quick 2-0 lead over No. 2 Bryan and then relied on its defense to hang on for a 2-1 sectional championship over the Golden Bears. Having already won its rematch against Central Catholic, Maumee next faced another familiar foe in No. 3 Napoleon. This time around, the game plan was clear – stop the two-time All-Ohioan Lauf, who held Napoleon’s all-time scoring record. “We had it already set in our minds that in the second game we were going to have someone do nothing but mark Brett,” Everhart said. “It was interesting because I wasn’t really sure who that guy would be, and Reese stepped up and said, ‘Give me a chance,’ and that’s what we did.” Hickey said he was up to the challenge the Wildcats phenom provided. “It was obvious that this was going to be one of the biggest games I would ever play, and it could be my last high school game,” Hickey said. “I wasn’t ready to end my season. I was still looking forward to practice the next day and continuing the season with my teammates. “I knew that if we wanted to win we had to keep Brett from touching the ball, and I like to think I succeeded. I knew, in the end, if he touched the ball it was on me, so I couldn’t let him have a shot.” Hickey, who played as a forward for about 15 percent of his Maumee career and totaled five goals and three assists, actually scored the game’s first goal on a third-minute header. Everhart said Hickey has “a very strong foot” and “a very accurate foot.” “Some people believe I could be a forward, but I have always been needed on defense,” Hickey said. In addition, though the talented Lauf did manage to assist on Napoleon’s lone goal 10 minutes later, he was ultimately stuck on 99 career goals, as Hickey and the Panthers went on to advance to the district finals with a 2-1 victory. “I was so happy I couldn’t help but scream,” Hickey said. “It was a great moment and just talking about it gives me goose bumps because it was such an intense game. Yes, I think it could be a good soccer story to tell. I will always remember that game.” Hickey said Coach Everhart helped him realize that he could play at the next level – a notion not completely new to him. “My freshman year, I asked my coach at the alumni game how many players go on to play in college and he said, ‘Maybe one or two.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s dumb. Why would they play in high school if they won’t play in college?’ “I have always wanted to play in college, but I didn’t realize I was good enough until my senior year when I started going to college camps and talking to Coach Everhart more.” After he sent some e-mails out to college teams, some of those coaches reached out to Hickey after this year’s season and told him they had seen some of Maumee’s games. “Defiance coaches came up to me after the senior all-star game to talk to me about their program,” Hickey said. “The Findlay coach was there also and he called me to talk to me about coming out to an evaluation camp. “I chose Findlay because it’s not too small of a school, but it’s also not too big. I also hear that their athletic training program is very good.” The former senior all-academic honoree will move in at the University of Findlay on August 13 and begin practice the following day. There, he will join former St. John’s senior defender Baily Crawford, former St. Francis sophomore defender Kegan Winkler and former Springfield midfielder and forward Brian Bethel as an Oiler. “His father and mother have raised him right,” Everhart said. “He’s one of those kids that will ask you ‘please’ and say ‘thank you.’ He works well with his teammates and is willing to help other players. A lot of the kids look up to and respect him. He’s a great individual for someone to look up to. “I actually think he’ll have a lot of success and will probably see some starting time very quickly.” Whatever college challenges the future brings, Hickey will no doubt take them on the same way he took on his high school opponents – head on. “I’m very excited to start my next level of play at Findlay,” Hickey said. “I have been training over the summer, so I can’t wait to see what happens.”­

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