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Madison coaches unite family, basketball teams

Most coaches in any sport at any level try to create a family-like atmosphere within their program.

That may come a little easier than most for the basketball teams at Madison Academic.

The Mustangs’ head coach is Andrew Hicks. The Lady Mustangs’ head coach is Jen Hicks.

The couple have been married for over a decade, and they first met while they were both coaching AAU basketball in Middle Tennessee.

They both had different coaching jobs in West Tennessee for a few years – Jen coaching at Liberty and middle school in Crockett County and Andrew at Jackson Christian, Humboldt and Lexington – before moving to Middle Tennessee.

It was while they were at Shelbyville they got to coach at the same school before returning to Jackson in 2021 at Madison where Jen is a helps with college preparation and Andrew is a teaching consultant.

“We both love basketball, and being at the same school is so much better than at different schools because of the logistics with our daughter,” Jen said.

Their love of the game of basketball is even evident with their 5-year-old daughter, whom they call “MJ,” which is how some people refer to the greatest basketball player of time, Michael Jordan.

“Shen MJ was born, I was at Lexington and Jen was in Crockett County, and she would be with Jen all the time,” Andrew said. “So if we both had a game on the same night, Jen would have MJ and I’d just see them when I got home that night.”

Being at the same school, the family is together much more of the time.

“She’s in practice with us,” Jen said. “We’re usually practicing with our own teams at the same time in the afternoon, but MJ will be in the gym with one of us.

“And she has a bunch of older brothers and sisters.”

And in a way, the Hicks’ own family brings the athletes in the two programs together with more unity than is normally felt between a boys’ and girls’ basketball team at a high school.

“I don’t know how often it happens, but not every school I’ve been at had the teams ride together to away games,” Andrew said. “And we have more boys showing up before tipoff of the girls’ game to support them and more girls sticking around for the boys’ game than other schools usually have.

“And it’s really nice to see that kind of camaraderie between the teams.”

Then once the games are over, it’s back home.

Do the Hicks bring their work home with them?

“Meaning do we talk basketball?” Jen said. “All the time.

“And it’s always been that way. We met in a basketball gym because we were both coaching AAU at the time. So yeah we’re coaching basketball during part of the time at work, and we have no problem discussing it at home too.”

And when discussing specific things going on with the team and players, it’s easier to do at home since both of the coaches are familiar with all of the players on both teams.

“When we were at different schools, we’d talk about different things going on with our teams, but we might not go into as much detail because we didn’t want to take the time to explain the subtle details about players or whatever,” Andrew said. “With both of us being here and in practice, we come home already knowing most of the details, so it makes for easier conversations when we do talk about work in that sense.”

What about when there’s a disagreement between them during a game?

“Oh we disagree all the time,” Jen said. “And there’s two ways to look at that. The first one is we both know the game of basketball and have different ideas to approach the same issue in a game. Sometimes the head coach in that particular game goes with the assistant’s suggestion and sometimes not. And sometimes it works and sometimes not. That’s basketball.

“Then the other way is I know in my past experiences when coaching that I may get an assistant coach that will take some time before feeling comfortable giving suggestions here and there because they might be afraid of if their suggestion doesn’t work. But we don’t have that issue with each other. I’m not shy about telling him what I think he should do, and he’s the same way with me.”

Both Andrew and Jen Hicks said they’re appreciative of the opportunity they have to work together and to do it at Andrew’s alma mater, as he was a member of Madison’s first senior class in 2004.

“We were appreciative of the district hiring us both and bringing us back to Jackson,” Andrew said. “And to be a part of everything going on here at Madison and with Jackson-Madison County Schools, we’re truly blessed to be here together.” Brandon Shields,

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