Last Saturday, Nicole Hicks finished her 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift as a police officer in San Francisco, then got in her car with a coworker to drive to Santa Clarita.
The lack of sleep was in the name of the World Police and Fire Games, which took place last week.
The 2009 Saugus High grad and Saugus Hall of Fame member was approached days before the games were set to begin about joining a 3-on-3 women’s basketball team that would represent San Francisco and San Jose.
“I’d never heard of it before,” Hicks said. “But she told me a little bit about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah definitely. Los Angeles, my home town, Santa Clarita, go out there and try it out.’”
She arrived at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Sunday to meet a group of strangers that would be her teammates for the rest of the week.
“(The chemistry) was there instantly,” Hicks said. “We bonded so much and just like, spending a week with each other and just getting to know each other, we all clicked.”
The team had skill, too. Four of the six players on the squad were college athletes, including Hicks, and two had played professionally overseas.
Although 3-on-3 was different than what she was used to, and it was, for the most part, the first organized games she’d played in since her days at San Francisco State, Hicks said that she adapted to the play immediately.
“It was fun,” she said. “It was different just because you have more of the court to work with. … Any time you get on the court it’s going to be fun, so it was a cool experience.”
After six games that spanned from Sunday to Wednesday, Hicks’ team went 4-2, good enough for a bronze medal.
They took the quick success as an indicator that the haphazardly-organized team was meant to be. Plans are already in the works to get a 5-on-5 team together for next year’s games in San Diego and the following year’s games in China.
“I think we did a really good job to have just met,” Hicks said. “I talked to some people on the other teams and they said they’ve been preparing for this all year round. Some of us really haven’t even worked out in a while.”
While with the Centurions, Hicks broke the single-season scoring record, the single-season steal record and the career steals record. For four years, she was the starting point guard and an All-CIF honoree. She was also named the All-Foothill League Player of the Year for the 2008-2009 season.
At San Francisco State, she averaged 9.2 points per game and 4.7 rebounds in her senior campaign while pursuing a degree in criminal justice.
In February, she graduated from the academy and began her career as a police officer shortly after.
“I thought having a career where you work as a team, kind of like basketball, would be something fun,” she said. “Just the adrenaline rush. Every day is like a new experience. You never know what’s going to happen.”