Some students work their whole high school career to make the varsity football team their senior year while other students dream of making drum major in the band.

And still others aim to be voted homecoming king or even being a part of their school’s historic moment.

Shoemaker senior Freddy Hicks has done it all.

“Knowing how much work I had put in from freshman year to now with football and band,” Hicks said of finding out he made both the varsity team and drum major, “struggling and knowing that I made it to the top in both of my activities and just hearing them announce it, I felt like crying because you know you do so much and you got what you’ve been working for.”

Hicks started playing football in fifth grade after watching his older brother, who’s own high school playing career ended early because of injuries.

“I was like, ‘OK, I guess this is what I have to do is play football,’ so I did,” Hicks explained.

“And I didn’t like it.

“It’s kind of a love-hate relationship with me and football sometimes because football is hard — being out there in the heat — and if you don’t have the heart, you’re going to quit. Only the strong will survive.”

Family is also the reason he decided to join band in sixth grade.

“My older sister and brother were in band,” he explained. “They both played percussion, and I tried playing percussion but I had no rhythm then. I do now, but I didn’t back then.

“I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’m going to do band,’ and after middle school I grew to love it. I grew to love football, and that’s why I kept on doing them.”

As his love grew for the game and for music, Hicks said he found his own reasons for which he continues to participate in both activities.

“I found now that, ‘this is why I enjoy football, this is why I enjoy doing band,’” he noted. “It’s no longer about impressing my family.”

It’s been a long journey for Hicks to reach this point, but he admits this had always been the end goal for his senior year.

“You can’t just waltz in and say ‘I’m a drum major,’ you have to work. You have to be good. You have to be the best of the best,” Hicks explained. “There’s two parts to it. You can’t just be a drum major and just know how to conduct a band; you have to know how to march because whenever problems come up, they’re going to come to you.”

He started working on perfecting his marching skills his freshman year but focused on becoming a leader his junior year when he tried out to be a section leader for the band.

“At the tryouts, I had to demonstrate conducting, demonstrate marching, demonstrate teaching marching and conduct to a show,” he explained, noting the additional scenario questionnaire and interview process.

While most schools in Texas would have a student choose between band or football, Hicks was never given that ultimatum.

“Coach Toby Foreman has really gone out of his way to make it work,” said Shoemaker band instructor Sean Hill. “Anytime we’ve had a problem, we’ve sat down and then he’s gone back to his staff and said, ‘No, this is what’s going to happen,’ so he gets most of the credit.”

Since Foreman arrived in the spring of 2017, his philosophy has always been that his athletes are students first.

“He’s very understanding,” said Hicks. “He’s not like, ‘You better be at my program and my program only.’ At Shoemaker we’re a family so we’re going to push the students and athletes to be the best.

“He actually told us as soon as halftime comes. ‘Go with the band.’ The others put on their instruments and I put on my gloves.”

When playing as visitors, Hicks has little to no time to change into the band uniform and so he conducts in his football jersey.

“It was literally like God’s plan,” he said of finding the solution to the changing-conducting conundrum. “Because I took off my football gloves and put on my white gloves, put on my whistle and they said, ‘Freddie can you conduct in your pads?’

“I did the motions, found out I can and that’s just how it started.”

The leadership skills he’s found as a drum major, Hicks also uses to connect his two worlds together.

“I kind of feel like a bridge,” he explained. “I’m able to relate to both people. I learned football skills and band skills, and I’m able to apply my football skills in band and my band skills in football.

“Being a senior and being in a leadership position and an automatic leadership role in football, I’m able to teach and use other methods they may not get from other seniors because I’ve gotten experience that they haven’t gotten.”

Drum major.

Varsity football player who contributed to ending a 27-game losing streak.

Homecoming king.

Advanced Placement student.

How does one 17-year-old find the time to do it all?

“Thankfully, one of the classes I take is AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and they teach you all about keeping your stuff organized and using an agenda,” Hicks explained.

“Honestly, if you know what you need to do and you keep up with it, there’s no excuse for you to fall behind.”

And while the balancing act of morning football practices, afternoon band practices and postgame homework comes naturally, Hicks admits it’s become routine out of habit.

However, there are two people who have helped him accomplish his dream of doing it all in high school — his parents.

“They stand behind me, push me even when I didn’t want to,” he said. “When I wanted to quit they were like, ‘No, you have to keep going for it.’ If it wasn’t for them, then I wouldn’t able to say I played band and football for as long as I have.

“I realized that I’ve been doing this since elementary school, start of middle school, and it really is a long time,” he added. “A lot of people have fallen off along the way, but I’ve made my way to the top from like 100-something freshmen to the top 20, and only 14 of us are original.

And while he’s figured out the balancing act, the motivation to keep on juggling his favorite activities comes from within.

“I just think about where I came from from freshman year with football, I wasn’t like the best player on the team, and band I wasn’t the best marcher in the group,” he said. “I think about how much I’ve worked. I’ve worked this hard I can’t turn around.

“I refuse to let myself turn around because if I do, then I literally put all this time and all this effort into the trash can and just say goodbye to the rest of it. But I don’t want to be like the rest of them.

“I want to be different.”

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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