Having now been in Gahanna for the past 12 years, I've had the fortunate blessing of getting to spend time with those that have been a part of the Gahanna traditions many more years than I. Individuals like Phil Koppel, Ed Rarey, Neil Billman, Forest Lines, the Strait Family, Gary Kitsmiller, Jack Schmidt, Jerry McIntosh and certainly I cannot forget John Hickman.
I just returned to the office this afternoon after spending time with Mr. Hickman, Coach Hickman, John Hickman - in ICU at the hospital. Along with his wife Janet, I sat and listened as John talked for 45 minutes about his great passion. Sports! According to Janet, this was the most Mr. Hickman spoke in several days and it was just great to hear him sharing his stories. He spoke, somewhat at random jumping from topic to topic, team to team, school to school and even era to era. Yet, he spoke! As I stood next to his bed listening and adding when I could as the era turned to a more recent time, it was quite evident that these stories are and will forever be in his memory.
From Gahanna to OSU, to officiating the Olympics as a track and field official, John has great memories of his passion for sports. Now I'm sure there are memories of family and friends that would've spurred different conversations had someone else been standing next to him today, but today it was me, and his mind was full of stories he seemed excited to share.
The good, no great news is Mr. Hickman seems like he's recovering and / or on his way to getting healthier. The bad news...I'm not sure he's going to catch that charter to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl...maybe the National Championship. Nevertheless, the news that I took away was there were news worthy stories that he likes to spread. And they involve a lot of former coaches, athletes, families and teams from Gahanna's past. So as I pulled away, said a prayer for Coach Hickman, I vowed to continue to appreciate those in the past, the past itself and the memories that many store with them as they extend their journey here in this life!