Hicks’ Enthusiasm to Lead KISD Student-Athletes in Forefront While Coaching at Alma Mater

Cion Hicks fondly remembers the coaching and teaching she received during her time as a student-athlete at Shoemaker High School.


“It’s just the authenticity that is shown by coaches and staff. They just want to invest in you,” Hicks said. “It’s so grand that you realize that you want to go back and give back.”


Cion Hicks with the ballHicks, a 2013 grad, is back, for two years now, and leaving again isn’t on her radar as she passes on lessons learned to the current pack of Grey Wolves she coaches across three sports.


Consider it a reinvestment – paying it forward, actually – Killeen ISD style.


“I think the teachers here, the coaches here, help build a sense of pride because they truly do care about you and want to see you succeed. So, it’s a Shoemaker thing and, overarching, it’s a KISD thing as well, because I’ve seen it at other campuses,” Hicks said.


“If you could count up the amount of former KISD athletes that are coaches here now because of a coach they had while at KISD, the numbers are crazy,” Hicks said, mentioning at least a dozen in a 30-second span before realizing the list really is quite long.


One example Hicks used to illustrate the power of positive coaching within Killeen ISD is girls basketball head coach Sherry McKinnon’s staff at Ellison High School, which includes three of her former players – Alisha Jones McDonald, Kenesha Saygo and Deja Pointer Carson.


It's a culture. It’s home. It’s KISD – vast with more than 50 campuses, yet still a tight-knit community.


Hicks, who began her schooling in Copperas Cove before enrolling at Shoemaker as a freshman, was a multi-sport athlete for the Lady Grey Wolves. Along with playing basketball, Hicks was a standout discus and shot put thrower on the track and field team for head coach Merdith Shaw-Moore, advancing to the state meet three times.


After finishing last in Austin as a sophomore, Hicks returned as a junior and placed second in both events. She raised the bar the following season and became a double state champion. Her school records in each event still stand.


Following a successful career at Baylor University, Hicks began her coaching career and spent three seasons as an assistant for the Waco Midway varsity girls basketball team, beginning in 2019-20. Soon enough, the chance to return to Shoemaker popped up, and last season she joined her alma mater’s coaching staff for volleyball, with Shaw-Moore, and track and field.


Her responsibilities increased going into 2023-24 – in a unique way, too.Ninth-grade boys basketball team


“This year I had the opportunity to get back into basketball, and I wanted to challenge myself and juggle three sports,” Hicks said.


She indeed got back into coaching basketball, but not for one of the girls teams. Instead, Hicks was selected to lead the boys ninth-grade A team.


“She aspires to be a head coach and I wanted to make sure she had the opportunity here at Shoemaker,” athletic coordinator and football head coach Toby Foreman said. “She excels anywhere you put her because she takes a lot of pride in it.”


Added Executive Director of Athletics Micah Wells, “She’s energetic, passionate and the kids respect her.”


Hicks said she had a few concerns about coaching boys, but at the end of the day knew that her knowledge of the sport would be a strong foundation toward what she wanted to achieve. She also first focused on building relationships, something that was instilled by Shaw-Moore, and Hicks made that a priority with her ninth-graders.


“The biggest thing with me coaching the guys, I wanted to give them a woman in a role model position that they hadn’t had before. You know, you have women who are your teachers, you have your mom, or other family, but never do you have a coach who’s a woman. So, just trying to help them understand that we have a common interest: We love basketball, we want to execute and we want to win,” Hicks said.


“I wanted to teach them how to respect a woman in a different role, and I think that it worked out really well,” she said. “It was scary at the beginning but building that relationship is the main thing.”


The Grey Wolves flourished with Hicks at the helm. They won the ninth-grade district title, losing just once, by one point, and avenging that defeat with a convincing victory in the rematch.


Shoemaker varsity teamHicks also was an assistant for head coach Karron Taylor and the Shoemaker boys varsity team, which advanced to the Class 5A Region III tournament this season.


“The biggest thing, just being one of the first women in the area to be on a boys varsity basketball staff, you have to know what you’re talking about,” said Hicks, who helps run KISD’s Dream Team Special Olympics basketball camp each year. “I hold records here for track and field, and I went to Baylor and did some good things there, so, I get to show them that I understand what I’m talking about and show that you have a coach who knows what they are talking about. And it was a blessing.”


No matter the sport, boys or girls, what it boils down to is cultivating a program that caters to providing a bright future for the student-athletes she encounters, one that encourages them to do their best and strive for more in athletics and in the classroom.


And, one day, maybe, they will return to Shoemaker and the district and continue to share the wealth within the KISD community.