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Back in the game for Sackville teen

In just 14 months, following a seven-hour surgical procedure to correct a curvature of her spine caused by scoliosis, Shelby Hicks has become an outstanding goalie for the Tantramar Lady Titans.
In just 14 months, following a seven-hour surgical procedure to correct a curvature of her spine caused by scoliosis, Shelby Hicks has become an outstanding goalie for the Tantramar Lady Titans. - Contributed

Following surgery for scoliosis, Hicks has become star goalie with Tantramar Lady Titans

SACKVILLE, N.B. – The star goalie with the Tantramar Lady Titans is an interesting example of overcoming a serious physical handicap to find a niche in the athletic world.

It was just over two years ago that Shelby Hicks had her height increased by a full two inches in just seven hours and since then it has been all good with a little help from physiotherapy.

“Shelby suffered from scoliosis,” said her mother, Lois, during a roundtable discussion with the family.

“She had a 72 per cent curvature of her spine when normally there should be none.”

With the assistance of Dr. Kenny, formerly of Sackville, Shelby was referred to the IWK Hospital in Halifax, where surgeons conducted a seven-hour surgical procedure. The surgeon had promised a correction to 30 per cent but she ended up with just an 11 per cent curvature.

Until the corrective measures were undertaken, Shelby experienced some pain and discomfort from the malformation and says she felt immediate relief following the procedure and continued to improve with the help of local physiotherapists.

Now she still has some upper body movement problems but in just 14 months of training has turned into one of the top goalies in the Eastern Conference Hockey League, already having registered seven shutouts this season, including three in league play against AAA teams.

Of course she recalls her first start this year when the powerhouse from Mathieu Martin rained 77 shots at her and 15 slipped into the mesh behind her. But all that has changed dramatically and she feels her Titans, currently sitting comfortably in fourth place, are well prepared to make the playoffs.

Her dad, Tim, is goalie coach for both the Titans boys’ and girls’ teams and says she is an ideal student.

“Tell her something once and the next time out you will see her putting that into practice.”

– Tim Hicks

Shelby has become committed to improving her game. In addition to her dad she has Sammy Tower providing tips and professional coach Louis Guay comes from Moncton to add to her knowledge. In addition, she has attended a high-level camp and feels she came away a much better goalie.

Tim says this year’s Titan team is the strongest the school has iced in years due to a number of factors – coaches were forced to make cuts for the first time when more girls tried out than ever before.

The addition of Lucrece Nussbaum, former national team player for many seasons with Switzerland and later St. Thomas Tommies, has provided some fresh ideas, and Shelby says a strong defensive corps consisting of Emma Lloyd, Emma Vogels, Erin Carr, Alexa Estabrooks and Hannah O’Neal provide her with great protection while Vogels and Alyssa Landry provide the bulk of the scoring.

Described as a butterfly-type goalie, Shelby has learned the idiosyncrasies of many of the best opposing players and plays each individually. She loves coming to the top of the crease to challenge attackers and with quick feet and an equally fast glove seldom permits any soft goals.

But this young lady will always remember the day her life changed – July 11, 2016 – and the surgeons who provided her with the opportunity to reach her true potential in the athletic world.

So what about the future? At the moment this talented Grade 12 student intends to follow her mom’s career – that of medical laboratory technician – and expects to begin studies in the fall.

And, oh yes, she will be looking to find an empty net that needs filling in Moncton come fall.

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