Less than a year after playing in her final college game, Jennifer Hickman has accepted a graduate assistant's position with the University of Arkansas at Monticello softball squad.
Jennifer Hickman can't seem to leave the University of Arkansas at Monticello softball program. At least not permanently.
Hickman, who graduated from UAM summa cum laude with a degree in business in May, has rejoined the Cotton Blossoms as a graduate assistant. She has enrolled in classes for the spring semester and will pursue her master's in physical education.
A four-year starter and a three-time All-Conference honoree, Hickman was part of three conference championship teams at UAM. As a sophomore, she helped the Blossoms advance to the Super Regional in 2010. Last season, she helped UAM win the inaugural Great American Conference regular season and postseason tournament championships.
An All-State shortstop, Hickman signed with the Blossoms in 2003 following a stellar career at Bastrop High. After starting every game as a freshman, she dropped out of school and worked for the U.S. Postal Service for five years, before returning to UAM.
Hickman spent the past several weeks in Shreveport working various jobs.
"I did a little bit of everything, just trying to make some money," Hickman said. "I worked for an insurance company and absolutely hated it."
Upon leaving the insurance job, Hickman filled in as a substitute teacher and assisted coach Wade Strother with the softball team at Southwood High School.
When UAM coach Alvy Early offered the GA position, Hickman accepted. She returned to Monticello in October and was officially appointed to the softball staff on Jan. 1.
Hickman was concerned that coaching players that were her teammates last season would be somewhat awkward, but says that hasn't been the case.
"I was kind of concerned that some of them may not accept me as a coach," Hickman admitted, "but it hasn't been a problem. They've all respected me."
Although she plans to coach, Hickman is undecided as to whether she will pursue a career in the college or high school ranks.
"When I was helping out at Southwood, I kind of enjoyed it," Hickman said. "I think I would be happier coaching high school than college. I didn't know anything about college ball back in the day, so maybe I could help somebody in that aspect.
"In high school, you get the players you have and have to make do with it. In college, recruiting is kind of the scary part, but I think I can do it. My master's will take a year and a half. I'll just have to see what this has in store for me."
Meanwhile, Hickman's playing career isn't necessarily over. She has been approached by two professional teams about the possibility of playing this summer.