The Give Back spirit is an integral part of the life of Gonzaga goalie Nolan Hickman, strengthening Seattle’s youth through basketball


The idea came to Gonzaga first-year goaltender Nolan Hickman a few years ago after his annual kids’ basketball camp concluded in his hometown of Seattle.

Maybe we should make a foundation of it, Hickman thought. “I got my whole family together and we got it started. We first made a website and it blew up from there.

This is how Hickman, with much help from his family and loved ones, became the founder of The Give Back Foundation, which intends to transform the health and well-being of young people within communities. by providing families with essential resources, according to the foundation’s website.

It’s easy to identify how Hickman became motivated at such a young age to even consider starting a foundation. Significant help goes to parents Nolan Sr. and Champale.

They made a point of helping others in the Seattle community, and not just during the holiday season. They volunteered in a variety of capacities, usually with young Nolan in tow if he wasn’t at practice or a game.

“Nolan has always been a donor,” Nolan Sr. said. “We would feed the homeless in soup kitchens, things of that nature, and he would be there, handing out hats and blankets. He was still leading the pack.

Their message of giving back struck Hickman in more ways than one.

“This is something my mom used to say to me, ‘If you have the chance to do something for someone less fortunate why not do it,” said Hickman, 18, who credits his mother with doing something for someone less fortunate. the idea of ​​the name of the foundation. “It’s something I’ve been living with for a long time.

“Just because of the simple fact that I grew up in the same community that I give back. Seeing them, me cooperating with them and doing the big brother’s things in the community, it warms my heart.

And countless other beneficiaries of Hickman’s philanthropic efforts. His parents beamed with pride when their son broached the idea of ​​the foundation, but they wanted to make sure that Nolan was actively involved in all aspects.

Nolan Sr. was clearly concerned about his son’s busy schedule as a five-star rookie playing high-level preparation and AAU basketball while staying on top of his schooling.

“My wife and I thought it was so awesome,” said Nolan Sr .. “He was like, ‘I wanna do this all the time.’ We said, “Alright, but you realize this takes a long time.” We tried to explain the business side to him. We were like, “Hey, you’re going to have a full plate to study.” But he made a pact with us that if you really want to see it through, we’re going to support you and all we ask is that you go all out.

Hickman’s actions showed he was into it. When the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the sports world, Hickman always held his basketball camp virtually.

During his last camp in August, Hickman called on his first-year GU teammates, Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis, to lend him a hand.

“It was easy,” Hickman said. “I’m their teammate, they’re brothers at the end of the day and we’re doing it for a good cause. They loved it and I took them around the city.

The day after Hickman’s camp, all three Zags competed in the popular pro-am league Crawsover, a Seattle native and longtime NBA star Jamal Crawford. Hickman sees Crawford as a mentor. The two keep in touch via text messages and phone calls.

“Even with Nolan at school there were late evenings and he had to do his homework and we had to postpone the meetings,” said Nolan Sr. “He really wants to reach people in every community. He’s also looking to do things in the Spokane area.

“He’s a little enterprising, but he understands the power of people who know him, come see him play and why not use his star power, little or a lot he has, to influence children.”

Hickman’s calendar limits the number of foundation events, but he led a coat drive last March for Hope Place, a women’s and children’s shelter in Seattle.

Over 1,000 coats, new and slightly used, were donated, but Hickman wanted to do more. He had the coats put on shelves for the women and their families to do their shopping.

“He really wanted to do it that way,” Nolan Sr. said. “It was really cool, really successful. The rest was donated to Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

In addition to being thoroughly, Nolan’s parents insisted this their son talks to people or groups in the community about initiatives related to the foundation. Nolan wasn’t thrilled at first, preferring to stay in the background, but he got up to the task.

“He was like, ‘I don’t want to do interviews, I don’t want to brag or brag,” said Nolan Sr. “But it’s really great to watch him grow up in the speaking business. They are really impressed with his maturity.

Impressed and surprised are common descriptions of how people react after learning of Hickman’s age when speaking in public or working with young people in his camp.

“People are surprised,” Hickman said, “but for me, I just feel like it’s another hobby to do when I’m not basketball or in school. don’t think so.

Others do, including teammates.

“It’s super special how young he is,” said Gonzaga senior point guard Andrew Nembhard. “And it shows how much he cares about his community at home and how he can make an impact at such a young age.”

“People are a little overwhelmed and it’s, ‘Am I supposed to talk to you? “Said Nolan Sr.” We are working on the process of turning the foundation into a Hickman Legacy Foundation and The Give Back would be under its umbrella. Our attorney brought it up during the paperwork: “Wait, how old is- does he?

Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford said Hickman’s founding was approved by the school’s compliance office. The Hickman family took care that the foundation did not interfere with Hickman’s eligibility.

“He’s a great boy, a great communicator,” Standiford said. “He’s a special young man.”

Hickman doesn’t hesitate to credit his founding team, which includes Nolan Sr., Champale, his sister Nyah, 14, and his brother Noah, 6. Champale and Nyah are part of the foundation’s board of directors. The treasurer is a close friend of Nolan’s father.

Hickman wants to expand the foundation to include different sports and encourage physical activity for children. He offers some ideas for helping those in need in the Spokane area.

Nolan Sr. said the foundation plans this week to help a youngster whose family could not afford to join Rotary’s Seattle AAU program.

“Whatever kids need or families need, we try to help,” Hickman said. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world, just to see these people touched by what I do and they love it and kiss it. It makes me want to do more.


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