November 30, 2023

ABOVE PHOTO: Hickey and the Paul Robeson Excessive Faculty ladies monitor staff.  Images courtesy: Napoleon F. Kingcade

By Napoleon F. Kingcade

For greater than three a long time, Tim Hickey was a nationally identified determine on the planet of monitor and area. He took the William Penn Excessive ladies monitor program and constructed them right into a nationwide powerhouse. Hickey died June 24 on the age of 80.

Born and raised in Indiana, Hickey participated in monitor packages at Parker Excessive Faculty and Ball State College. After he graduated from school, he spent three years within the Peace Corps in South Africa, the place he coached the Tanzanian Ladies’s Nationwide monitor staff in 1967 and coached the ladies’s staff within the African Video games. Throughout that match, his staff received 4 silver medals.

In line with Hickey, the Tanzanian Ladies’s Nationwide staff received on pure expertise, having had no monitor to coach on or no tools to make use of. The ladies’s staff skilled laborious and had the willpower to win, regardless of the dearth of kit, he stated.

Upon his return to america, Hickey was decided to construct a ladies monitor staff.  After being employed as a math instructor at Vaux Center Faculty, Hickey seen there was no ladies monitor staff on the college. When he tried to begin one, he was denied by the administration. As a substitute of complaining about it, Hickey went on to begin his personal membership — Klub Keystone — a girls and boys monitor staff that will compete throughout the nation.  

Coach Hickey and Swenson Women monitor staff

In 1972, Hickey began instructing at William Penn Excessive Faculty, an all-girls college at situated close to Broad and Girard Avenue. In his first 12 months, he organized a gaggle  of proficient runners and fashioned a championship monitor staff. In 1979, Hickey put collectively a proficient 4 x 800 relay staff. His relay staff competed within the Penn Relays. The William Penn ladies broke the nationwide scholastic document with a blazing time of 8:59.7. They defeated primary rival Brooklyn Tech. 4 years later, William Penn began a 20-year common season unbeaten streak that lasted till 2003.

When Hickey started teaching on the college, there was no monitor area to carry practices,  so he had his staff run sprints across the college’s perimeter. Hickey additionally had no price range to buy uniforms or cash to move his staff to meets out of the state. The principal of the varsity supplied no monetary help. 

Coach Tim Hickey

“I had a principal who really advised me I used to be a failure as a coach as a result of I hadn’t taught my ladies lose,” Hickey stated. “She wouldn’t give us the alright to go to meets or anyplace else. The one method we’d go to meets was to climb over the fence. We additionally needed to do it to go to the Penn Relays. So, for 15 years, we have been sneaking out of the varsity and climbing over the fence.”

Regardless of his early struggles, Hickey refused to be held again. He cared lots for his ladies. As a strategy to increase cash for the staff, he held a collection of cookie gross sales. He was quickly in a position to purchase a van to take the staff to trace meets. Hickey and his William Penn staff started to win many championships.

From 1972 to 2003, the William Penn ladies monitor staff received greater than 45 Public League indoor and out of doors monitor championships. In addition they received a number of Public League cross-country titles. The William Penn groups have been additionally victorious on the Penn Relays, profitable medals for 20 consecutive years. Throughout that point, Hickey had the best highschool feminine monitor staff in Pennsylvania. 

Hickey with Angel Patterson

Over the course of three a long time, Hickey had coached among the most proficient feminine runners within the state of Pennsylvania. One in all his greatest was Angel Patterson. Throughout her highschool profession, Patterson received 10 totally different particular person occasions — she was a grasp in all of them.

Nonetheless, essentially the most thrilling second in Patterson’s highschool monitor profession was when she ran the anchor leg on the 1996 Penn Relays. Confronted with the potential of dropping to the Jamaicans, Patterson and the William Penn ladies have been decided to win the 4x 400 relay race and finish Jamaica’s profitable streak. 

Through the ultimate lap, the William Penn ladies have been sitting in third place. Nonetheless, after Angel Patterson acquired the baton every part modified. In a burst of power, Patterson had made up a piece of yards. Earlier than she made her ultimate flip, Patterson took over first place. As she took management of the race, the group rose to their ft. In a matter of seconds, Patterson was sprinting down the house stretch in direction of the end line, Patterson was in a position to seal the deal and crossed the end line with an unbelievable 53.9 break up. She beat her Jamaican opponent by two seconds.

Earlier than she collapsed on the bottom, Patterson was mobbed by her teammates. The victory marked the primary time lately that an American college had crushed a Jamaican staff on the Penn Relays.

In 1997, Patterson ran the anchor leg once more and was victorious on the Penn Relays. After commencement, she attended the College of Texas and have become a leadoff sprinter for the Woman Longhorns. Throughout her 4 years at Univ. of Texas, Patterson helped win a large number of races on the Penn Relays. In 2018, Patterson was inducted into the Penn Relays Wall of Fame.

Hickey with the late Shillie Turner.

Regardless of his success, Hickey might always remember the tragedy of his former runner, 17-year-old Penn H.S. senior Shillie Turner. Hickey believed Turner was one other proficient athlete destined for greatness. 

On January 15, 1993, at a regional meet in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Turner had simply ran a document time in an 800-meter race, a powerful 2 minutes and 15.3 seconds in her occasion. In line with Hickey, Turner had one other monitor meet set for January 18 on King Day. “She had been submitting out school functions and coaching superbly,” Hickey stated throughout a newspaper interview. In line with Hickey, Turner had a proposal to attend Clemson College and was scheduled to take her SATs. However on January 18, Turner was reported lacking.

Hickey stated Turner by no means missed a monitor meet earlier than. Nonetheless, after 4 weeks, a $6,000 reward was raised by her schoolmates asking for details about the monitor runner’s whereabouts. Meantime, Southwest Detectives took statements from Shillie Turner’s mom, Vivian King. Turner’s mom advised detectives she had spoken to Shillie on the cellphone that Sunday and was advised Shillie was going to a celebration on the Ben Franklin Resort together with her teammates.

After an in depth investigation, police found Shillie’s mom had been mendacity about her whereabouts and had finally confessed that she had murdered her daughter. 

After Hickey retired from teaching in 2003, he nonetheless served as a volunteer assistant monitor coach.  He helped the Swenson ladies monitor staff seize the 2013 Pennsylvania Class AA State Observe and Area Out of doors Championship. Hickey additionally performed a key function in Swenson’s ladies 4x 400 relay staff’s Philadelphia Space Women championship win on the 2013 Penn Relays.  The Swenson ladies received that occasion with a time of three:46.13.

Hickey then took over at Paul Robeson Excessive Faculty for monitor coach Walter Pegues whereas Pegues took a go away of absence to take care of a household matter, simply as everybody thought he was achieved teaching. Whereas there, Hickey helped their ladies monitor staff seize the District 12 title.  The staff additionally received the 2014 Public League Out of doors Championship.

In 2016, Hickey was inducted into the Amory Coaches Corridor of Fame, in addition to the Nationwide Excessive Faculty Observe and Area Corridor of Fame in 2021.

As of press time, funeral preparations have been nonetheless pending.