Update Dec. 22: The School Committee approved the naming of the WHS Athletic Training Room after Patty Hickey at its Dec. 22 meeting. Here’s a mockup of the plaque shared by Athletic Director John Brown.
Wellesley High School Athletic Director John Brown isn’t the mushiest guy I’ve ever met. But he waxes downright sentimental when speaking about Patty Hickey, the ubiquitous head athletic trainer who has been serving the town’s student-athletes for 40 years and retires this week.
“She truly thinks of every athlete as her own child,” he says. “When she talks about my football players, she means they’re her football players… she just cares about these kids, whether it be swimming or wrestling or you name a sport.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school system can’t throw a party for Hickey as it would otherwise have done.
But Brown and WHS Principal Dr. Jamie Chisum recently approached WPS Superintendent Dr. David Lussier with an even more special idea. They proposed naming the athletic training room in Hickey’s honor, and Lussier and Brown in turn made this request to the Wellesley School Committee this week (hear their comments starting at about the 1-hour and 56-minute mark of the Wellesley Media recording). The committee welcomed the idea, and now needs to proceed with the logistical ins and outs of getting it done, hopefully by the time it has its last meeting of the year later this month.
Brown said during the School Committee meeting that Hickey has dealt with hundreds of thousands of student-athletes across the state over her career, which has also included mentoring a roster of excellent student trainers.
He praised her thoroughness, whether it was treating athletes directly, calling parents if their kid twisted an ankle at a game, or emailing the administration if an athlete got concussed or needed to get in an ambulance for treatment.
John Griffith, a WHS fitness and health teacher, as well as football and track coach, echoed much of what Brown said when we exchanged email with him about the trainer.
“Patty Hickey will be a tremendous loss to our teaching and coaching community,” he says. “She was such a strong figure that brought knowledge, confidence and a kind heart to everyone she was around.”
He adds: “I remember countless times that she was brought to tears worrying about the health and well being of countless athletes over the years. As a head coach, I always knew my athletes were in good hands with Patty.”
Naming the training room in Hickey’s name, and putting up a plaque to formalize it, is an obvious way to recognize her, Brown says.
“Whenever anyone describes the door that comes into the building that’s outside the athletic training office, they call it coming in by ‘Patty’s room,'” he says. “If we’re going to say ‘come in by Patty’s room,’ why don’t we just name it ‘Patty’s Room?'”