Q&A With Fighting Illini Fullback Elmer Hickman
Oct. 21, 1999
by Matt Herrmann,
MH: What is your most prized possession?
EH: My teammates, because we all stick together in whatever we do, on and off the field. On the field they've got my back, off the field they've got my back. We stick together. We're there for each other, no matter what happens. If somebody gets down, we go and visit him, and just tell him to keep his head up.
MH: What are words Elmer Hickman lives by?
EH: Hard work. Dedication. And adversity cannot keep me down. I've been here for five years, and if it's not one thing, it's another. First it's my knee, then it's my heart, then it's my shoulder. So I've been through a lot of adversity since I've been here. Dedication, hard work, and the will to accomplish are the words that I live by.
MH: How tired are you of hearing about LaVar Arrington?
EH: Let me tell you, I think I've seen that clip of the jump and tackle about 100 times. It was one play. It's like a one-play wonder. Like songs that are one-hit wonders. I'm tired of seeing it. It was a good play, but I'm just tired of seeing it, let's put it that way. He's a good athlete and he deserves the press he's getting, but I know he's made more than just that play in his college career.
MH: Was there ever a time in your career when you wanted to walk away from the game?
EH: Yep, twice. In high school, my junior year, they were playing this tailback in front of me and he wasn't as good as I was, but he was a senior and I was a junior. I told my dad, "Dad, I don't want to play anymore because I'm getting jacked around." He said, "Well, just stick it out, and your time will come." So my junior year I ended up playing fullback, which I didn't really like then, but now I like it. The second time was last season. My shoulder was bothering me real bad and I told Coach Turner, "I don't want to play because my shoulder hurts really bad." He said, "Well, just stick it out, give it a couple of weeks, and see how it goes. And if it doesn't get any better, just walk away." I called my dad and he reminded me that I'm not a quitter. I mean adversity is adversity, and I'm going to go ahead and conquer it.
MH: In relation to the last question, what keeps you coming back day in and day out?
EH: I'm not a loser. I'm not a quitter. I love to win. I'm a winner. I'm out to show my teammates and everybody else that there's a lot out there to win. My job is to help this team accomplish its goals. The main goal is winning.
MH: What is your biggest fear?
EH: It used to be heights, but it's not heights anymore because of the Experimental Training Camp we went to. Now it's probably water over six feet deep, because I can't swim. So that's my biggest fear.
MH: What's something the world doesn't know about Elmer Hickman?
EH: That I'm shy. I try to hold it back because I don't want people to say, "He's shy." But when I get around a lot of people I tend to clam up. But if I'm out with my friends, I can talk a lot. But I'm a quiet guy. You might not believe it though, but I am.
MH: What's your most memorable experience while you've attended the University of Illinois?
EH: Meeting my teammates, especially (the late) Steve Willis because he was my best friend, and my roommate, and I'll always remember him. I'll always remember playing with these guys over the past four or five years, and when I graduate I'm going to miss them. But I've always got memories that I can look back on.