MANILA -- It seems like yesterday these four young men from Manila were starting their basketball careers in the fourth grade. These guys have a special bond that most teammates don't see due to the years they have spent together in the gym.
John Hicks is a special young man to me since he is my youngest child. John has attended Manila since kindergarten and played basketball since the fourth grade. He states his most memorable experiences in playing ball was the two free throws he sank with 5.6 seconds remaining to win the game at Harrisburg this season and scoring 12 points in the first half on senior night.
His most embarrassing memory is not getting to play the last game of his senior career in the district tournament. John gives his brother Bradley Davis credit when asked about the person who influenced him the most. "Bradley has the hardest work ethics of anyone I have ever seen," Hicks states. His advice to underclassman is, "Whatever you dodo it to your best ability and if you know in your heart you are working hard don't listen to those who say you aren't." John plans on attending college to pursue a degree in computer technology.
Justin Kirk also attended Manila Schools since kindergarten and played ball since the fourth grade. His most memorable experience has been "being out there (on the court) with my boys John, Mitchell, and Nate." Shooting on the wrong end at Bay in the eighth grade is his most embarrassing experience. Kirk states that his mom has influenced him the most in his life because she always wanted him to do his best. His advice to younger players is "Work hard and give it everything you've got." Justin and John have a special bond since they are both from "the Big Etowah." He plans on attending school and becoming an electrician.
Mitchell Gammill came to Manila in the fourth grade and began his basketball career. His advice to his underclassman is "Try to have fun, sometimes it is made too serious." Last years NEA tournament is his most memorable experience. Shooting a free throw in the Tri-County tournament last year and hitting the backboard hard and not hitting the rim is his most embarrassing moment. Mitchell names Michael Jordan as the person he admired the most because he is the greatest player ever and he handles everything like a professional. He plans on attending college at Arkansas State University.
Nate Morries rounds out this years seniors and he is no stranger to basketball, playing since the fourth grade at Manila.
"Winning district tournament last year" is his favorite memory from playing ball at Manila. When asked about his most embarrassing moment he said, "Missing all those dunks this year." Watching his older brother Kip play basketball influenced him the most in his career. His advice to younger athletes is, "If you're going to play basketball put your best into it." He plans on attending Arkansas State University and is undecided about future basketball plans at this time.
I have had the honor to see these young men play nearly every game they have played since the fourth grade. They have been a joy to watch and are an asset to the Manila Lions uniform. Each one has a special gift and will be greatly missed. Good luck to each of you.