By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Since coming to Brighton High School four years ago, Michael Wickersham has guided his team to play in a District 13-3A championship game, a Region Semifinal elimination game and several rivalry showdowns.
But June 7 was the most nervous moment for the man known as Coach Wick walking onto the Brighton Baseball Field.
“You have to tell them,” Wickersham lamented. “It was pretty tough today to tell them.”
Wickersham had to tell his Cardinal players he was resigning from his post as head coach of Brighton Baseball to take the same position at Gibson County.
“They are about seven minutes from my home,” Wickersham said. “It’s a small school and would be a good fit for us.”
Coach Wick and his wife Libby came to the tough decision to make the move after the Pioneers approached Wickersham to join their Class A program.
“My drive to Brighton everyday was about an hour and half the last four years,” Wickersham continued. “And that drive is getting tougher and tougher as I’m getting older. After days of prayers and crying, I realized my health and wife are very important to me.”
Wickersham walks away from a Brighton program coming off a 30-win season. The veteran Skipper gave credit to the offseason work and conditioning programs for building stronger Cardinals in 2018. That very same weight program began at 6 a.m. most days.
Wickersham had to wake up at 4 a.m. to make the drive in order for his players to have access to the weights. During the season, most games would conclude by 9 p.m. Once the field was broken down and covered, Wickersham would make the hour and half drive back home to arrive by midnight.
“I would have to call Libby and talk to her just to stay up,” he recalled. “It got to the point I thought about renting an apartment near Brighton during the season. It was taking a toll. It wasn’t good for my health or her health.”
Brighton was Wickersham’s third stop in his career which began in 1998 at Crockett County. In four years with the Cardinals, several players signed college scholarships including three this past season, Will Dunlap, Brett Wilkins and Eli Davis.
Davis became Brighton first finalist for Mr. Baseball in 2018. This year’s Cardinals set a record for wins to begin a season with 18 in a row going on to win the district tournament title.
Brighton won the 2016 regular-season district championship under Wickersham’s guidance. He collected 80 wins in his four seasons.
“I will remember those boys, the most important part to Lib and me,” he said. “We have been cursed by not having any children of our own. In return we are blessed each year as I have 30 to 35 children. We grow close to them and it is very hard to leave them.”
Wickersham wants all the Cardinals who played for him to know he appreciates their sacrifices and he loves them. He hopes they remember him as a man of character who kept his word. He reminds them, he’s just a call away.
As for his overall legacy, Wickersham hopes he improved on what he inherited from former Cardinal Baseball Head Coach Brian Oswalt.
“After our last game I was pretty upset,” he said. “But now that I’ve had time to reflect, I had a great coaching staff who worked tirelessly with the boys. They did the things we ask to continue to get better. We set that record, signed guys to college and they got better.
“Coach Oswalt took this program to new heights and left it a better place,” Wickersham concluded. “I honestly hope I made it better for the next guy. Then the next guy will grow it even more. The foundation has gotten stronger and stronger because of the coaches and the boys.”
This week Brighton announced Ryan Wood as the next head coach of the Baseball Cardinals.