LARAMIE – Ask Sundance Wicks to inform you a narrative, and also you’re assured to come back away with a story that’ll persist with you for fairly a while.
You can ask him about his first identify. Coming from “a family of Bobs and Marys,” Wicks admits he had his questions on its origins for a time. He’ll inform you how his father had what Wicks affectionately refers to as a “spiritual moment” the place the identify, partly derived from a Native American ceremony, partly from the identify of a ranch and perhaps even somewhat bit from the movie competition, got here to him. His mom initially was not in favor of the identify however, finally, she caved to the universe’s needs.
“It must have just been that spiritual or painful of a birth that my mom signed off,” Wicks stated with amusing.
Then he’ll inform you, tongue in cheek, that when USA seashore volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings named her son Sundance, and it was acknowledged as one of many high child names of the 12 months, it wasn’t earned.
“I earned a life of Sundance,” stated Wicks, who was dubbed “Sunny-D” going by means of college. “Instead, I just get people asking, ‘Where’s Butch Cassidy?’”
Or Wicks may inform you the story of how after a star basketball profession at Campbell County High in Gillette, he had a scholarship provide to his dream college, the University of Wyoming. His earliest images function him carrying brown and gold. It’s the one place he ever wished to be. Then he’d end that anecdote by telling you that after then coach Larry Shyatt departed for Clemson, the brand new teaching employees selected to take his scholarship provide away, forcing him to go away the state he adores to pursue his basketball desires.
Wicks may additionally expose how, when he and the remainder of the teaching employees at Northern Illinois had been relieved of their duties, he was with out a job and began a coaching academy in Arizona, a spot the place he had no connections and no purchasers. He’d then admit that he lived out of his automotive for a time in 2011, however that academy had grossed $750,000 simply 4 years later.
Wicks, who not too long ago left his head teaching place at Missouri Western University to affix new UW coach Jeff Linder’s employees as an assistant, has taken an unconventional path again to Wyoming. It’s been stuffed with sufficient highs and lows to fill just a few chapters of a novel.
But you’ll by no means hear him complain or really feel sorry for himself. Instead, he’ll reply with a smile, amusing and inform you it was all price it on a windy street towards self-actualization.
No grudges, no slights. Only gratitude for having been on the journey.
“What toughness really is, it’s not talking about it. It’s fighting through those times that really seem bleak,” Wicks stated. “Life is going to hit you a lot harder than a box out.”
Wicks was raised exterior of Gillette. Not a suburb, quite a trailer park within the nation till his household may afford a house, he stated. His mom taught at the highschool and a father was a painter, although Wicks likes to thinks of his father as extra of an “artist.” His mother and father had been each athletic, together with his father having performed soccer at Washington State and his mom being a volleyball participant. Wicks did among the exhausting work together with his father, and it was then he regarded to his mom for inspiration: schooling may get him so far as he wished to go. He vowed to his mom he would graduate from school with a number of levels.
The plan was, in fact, to get these levels from his dream college in Laramie. After starring at Campbell County in basketball, soccer, and monitor and area (he gained state championships in all three as a senior), he was ready to make the trek 4 hours south.
What occurred subsequent is pretty well-known in these elements: Steve McClain – who had been employed to switch Shyatt – opted to take Cheyenne East’s Marcus Bailey over Wicks with the scholarship. Bailey, in fact, had a standout profession for the Cowboys earlier than injuring his knee as a senior. Wicks went to Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the place he performed for the legendary Don Meyer.
Was a Division II program Wicks’ first alternative? Of course not. But Wicks likes to suppose he bought one thing out of it, regardless. It was one other hard-learned lesson in toughness and put a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder.
“You’re always going to use anything as motivation, right?” Wicks stated. “It isn’t because I didn’t want to play at the highest level. … I wanted to be a Cowboy, and that’s why I followed them to this day.”
It was underneath Meyer that Wicks began to blossom, and never simply as an athlete. He was, in fact, an amazing piece for the Wolves, incomes all-conference honors twice in each basketball and as a hurdler for the monitor and area workforce. But underneath Meyer’s tutelage, Wicks discovered his ardour for teaching. Meyer coached for 38 seasons on the collegiate degree, compiling 923 total victories whereas at one level holding the NCAA all-division file with 903 wins. He died following a battle with most cancers in 2014.
Meyer taught Wicks the worth of instructing others and of persevering by means of the worst of instances. After graduating from Northern State with a level in worldwide enterprise in 2003, Wicks performed overseas in Sweden for the Sodertalje Kings. He then got here again to Northern State and earned a grasp’s diploma in well being, bodily schooling and science, fulfilling that promise he made to his mom.
“It was a mission,” Wicks stated.
Wicks joined Meyer’s employees as a graduate assistant earlier than taking assistant teaching jobs at Colorado and Northern Illinois. When coach Ricardo Patton was fired by NIU in 2011, Wicks was a casualty, as effectively. That additionally occurred to coincide with a housing disaster.
After his tenure in DeKalb, Illinois, ended, Wicks headed to Las Vegas to assist practice NBA prospects, together with Kawhi Leonard and Isaiah Thomas. It was not a job, nevertheless, as he was working as a volunteer. He spent his time residing out his automotive and on a buddy’s sofa.
He then took a plunge and guess on himself, deciding to open a basketball academy in Arizona. Wicks was homeless for a complete of eight months between Las Vegas and Arizona, he stated, once more sleeping in his automotive after which residing out of the MMA gymnasium he deliberate to make use of for his coaching till he made sufficient cash to pay $400 per 30 days in hire for housing in Mesa, Arizona.
“There’s a lot of people that have had it a lot worse than I’ve ever had it,” Wicks stated. “That question (of if it’s worth it) runs through your mind more than you’d like to think.”
Former NBA star Mike Miller, a South Dakota native Wicks knew from his time in Aberdeen, constructed a small, quarter gymnasium on the facility, Power MMA, which Wicks was capable of hire. That then grew right into a full-on enterprise, the Arizona Basketball Power Academy, the place he was the director and an teacher till 2015. He had 375 children taking part in his improvement packages, Wicks stated.
Wicks then left the academy for an assistant teaching job on the University of San Francisco earlier than coming again to South Dakota as Northern State’s affiliate head coach from 2016-18. Wicks helped lead the Wolves to their first nationwide title recreation look in 2018 and was later given the keys to Missouri Western University’s program.
As the Griffons’ head coach, Wicks led the Division II program to 18 wins final season, probably the most for this system in a decade. But when Linder, who Wicks knew by advantage of teaching being a small fraternity, requested if he wished to affix his employees. It was a no brainer.
Was going from head coach again to assistant unusual? Admittedly, sure. But the prospect to lastly reside out his brown-and-gold desires was too good to go up. And working with somebody he considers to be a basketball savant was a reasonably strong perk, too.
Wicks doesn’t maintain any sick will towards the varsity that shunned him 20 years in the past. Instead, he reveals grace and pleasure in one other likelihood to higher himself.
“There’s a very massive difference between sliding over 16 inches (on the bench),” Wicks stated. “(But) it’s never about taking a step back. If you’re someone who’s always seeking wisdom … you could find that from any walk of life.”
With the continued COVID-19 pandemic placing sports activities on indefinite hiatus, Wicks is admittedly anxious to work together with his new gamers. He appears like a wild animal in a cage, he stated, unable to place his vitality to most productiveness. Wicks’ vitality is infectious. His ardour comes by means of in all the pieces he does, whether or not it’s a easy cellphone name or by means of his Twitter feed. Wicks loves what he does, and it’s exhausting to not have that spirit rub off on you.
Wicks calls it his “juice,” and says that he and everybody else must deliver their model of it each single day. No one’s is sort of the identical, however everybody’s brings one thing to the desk.
“It’s almost exhausting not being able to get exhausted,” he stated with amusing. “Because, at the end of the day, I want to make sure my tank is empty.”
Given all the pieces Wicks has gone by means of, the non secular origins of his first identify are considerably becoming. Wicks has leaned on his religion to get him by means of moments which may have damaged lesser individuals. But on the finish of the day, he stated, he wouldn’t change a factor in regards to the journey, his identify or who he’s turn into.
Moments of heartache have introduced Wicks so far in his life and, if he’s being sincere, it doesn’t do a lot good to measure one’s path in opposition to anybody else’s. You are the place you’re for a purpose, even when it doesn’t all the time make sense in the meanwhile.
Much as nobody’s “juice” is strictly the identical, nobody’s story is, both, Wicks believes. And that’s what makes the successes so particular.
“I’m only really good at being who I am,” Wicks stated. “Stay loyal to your journey … and don’t compare journeys, but learn.”