Annual golf tournament held to honor former players

Payton McKeehan

The golf team hosted the first annual Maliska/Hicks Memorial Boys Varsity Tournament this year at the Texas A&M golf course. The tournament is named after former Viking players Garrett Maliska, who passed away in 2011 from Glioblastoma Cancer, and John Harden Hicks II, who passed away last November from Glioblastoma Brain Cancer.

The boys team finished third overall in the tournament with a team score of 660 and appreciated the opportunity to play in such an event.

“It was an emotional moment as a team,” senior golf player James Florian said. “Especially since we have had two players suffer from cancer before succumbing to it. With that in mind, it was a tournament in memory of them, and that’s how we treated it.”

Tragedy often brings people together as it did when John passed and the remaining teammates united and play for him and his memory.

“Although I wasn’t part of the team in the tournament, I was there for support and community,” James said. “We definitely came together and organized things to make sure that all of the small signs on everything were in place.”

Many schools from across Texas participated in the Maliska/Hicks golf tournament in support of the team with money going to support the scholarship funds established in their honor.

“We had a great turnout for this event,” golf coach Timothy Pepper said, “Teams from all over the Houston, Austin, and Bryan/College Station areas participated. I hope the tournament will continue to grow in the future.”

Even while battling cancer, John never lost his desire to play golf and continued to keep his spirits up.

“John played golf even though he suffered with cancer, but he didn’t let that interfere with how much he played or what he did,” James said. “The only time it really affected him was whenever he was not physically able to do anything.”

The tournament served as a way to heal for the team as they played to honor Garrett and John.

“The only thing that made the tournament different was the fact that we were doing it for our fallen teammates,” James said. “We played to the best of our ability and we played to have fun as they would’ve wanted us to do.”

Although the reason for the tournament is difficult for many of the players to deal with, they each recognize the hope it brings and what it means to be able to be a part of the event.

“The meaning behind [the tournament] and the fact that John didn’t get to play his senior year made the event special,” senior golf player Nick Reynolds said. “It’s difficult to watch anyone struggle with cancer let alone a kid. I’m glad we have this event.”

Both Garrett and John loved golf just as much as their teammates, everything their teammates have learned valuable life lessons.

“I realize there’s a bigger meaning than just like having a bad day or playing back,” Nick said. “There’s a bigger meaning to everything and golf is just a sport.”