Hicks family places memorial bench at Randolph Park

7 7 Malinda Hicks Bench 2 copy
Malinda Hicks becomes the first to sit on the memorial bench erected to remember her husband, Joel.

Legendary coach, friend to many remembered


The Patriot

Joel Hicks’ passing March 4 of this year left a huge hole in the heart of Pulaski County. A great football coach and a great friend who many cared for and admired had left us too soon.

To many, Joel will always be remembered as a high school football coach, which is understandable, considering his success.

His coaching career – first in West Virginia and then in Pulaski County – is legendary with well over 300 wins and, in 24 years at Pulaski County, 15 district titles and 6 regional crowns. His Cougars were three-time State Runners-Up and – finally in 1992 – Division 6 State Champions. More than good enough to land him in the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame in 2016.

There was, however, another side to Joel Hicks.

As his obituary stated following his death, “At his core, Coach Hicks was a man that loved his family, his numerous pets and cherished his friendships.”

“There were few days when you wouldn’t see Coach Hicks and his dog running with his buddies, playing golf with his close friends or at Bisset Park feeding the homeless cats.”

Coach Hicks will always be remembered for football, but his memory will live on, too, because of the friendships he developed over the years, his love for the players he coached and – most importantly – his love for his family.

Following his death, his family – wife Malinda and children, Amy and TJ – set out to do something special in his memory.

With the help of family friend, Jack Gill they obtained a cedar-colored bench to be placed at Randolph Park in Dublin as a memorial to Joel.

As so often happens these days, the bench was delayed due to a backlog of orders, Gill said.

Finally, three and a half months after the project began, the bench arrived last week and was assembled by the park staff.

It sits today along the circular walking path that surrounds the park’s ball fields.

Inscribed on the backrest of the bench are the simply stated words, “In Memory Of Coach Joel Hicks.”

His family wants the people of Pulaski County to know the bench is there to enjoy, and to help them remember Joel.

The football field at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium is named for Hicks and that is a fitting tribute to his football success.

Now, the bench at Randolph Park pays tribute to the other side of the man.

Both the coach and the friend will be missed, but always remembered!