HICKS KEPT ON HER TOES : BALLET HELPS CSUN TRACK STAR SUCCEED.Byline: Kirby Lee Special to the Daily News
What will be Cheree Hicks' reward after breaking the Cal State Northridge school record in the women's discus twice her freshman season?
A plaque? A gold ring?
``My coach told me she was going to buy me a pair of ballet shoes Ballet shoes, or ballet slippers, are specially designed lightweight shoes for ballet dancing. Ballet shoes are soft shoes worn by ballet dancers until their bones are ossified and their muscles strong enough for them to use pointe shoes, which allow them to stand on the ,'' Hicks said.
And maybe a leotard too. Hicks has improved more than 27 feet in the discus after enrolling in a beginning ballet class in January to improve her coordination and technique.
At the Northridge Invitational last month, Hicks broke a 20-year-old school record with a toss of 172 feet, 1 inch to surpass Karen Marshall's 1977 standard of 168-3.
A week later, the freshman from Littlerock High bettered her school record with a toss of 173-8 at UC San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. to move closer to the NCAA NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association automatic qualifying standard of 175-6. Hicks has also recorded a personal best of 47-3-1/2 in the shot put this season.
``What she has done is beyond my expectations and anyone else's,'' Northridge throws coach Candy Roberts said. Hicks' bests in high school were 145-6 in the discus and 43-3 in the shot put.
``To PR 30 feet in one season at the level she is (at is) unheard of Not heard of; of which there are no tidings.
Unknown to fame; obscure.
See also: Unheard Unheard ,'' Roberts said. ``The scary thing is she is still not at her top level. She is so raw. This is just going to be the start.''
Hicks finished sixth in the shot put and ninth in the discus in the state meet last year. Still, Hicks' technique was far from perfect.
``That was no surprise to us,'' said former Northridge javelin thrower Kristin Dunn, who completed her collegiate eligibility last season but still trains with the team. ``We've always joked that she lacked coordination. She's probably the most uncoordinated un·co·or·di·nat·ed
1. Lacking physical or mental coordination.
2. Lacking planning, method, or organization.
un thing to walk on the earth.''
Roberts put Hicks through numerous drills to develop the ability to spin on her right toe, a fundamental skill for discus throwers, without success. Roberts turned to ballet as a last resort.
``It was an experiment more than anything,'' Roberts said. ``She was a guinea pig guinea pig (gĭn`ē), domesticated form of the cavy, Cavia porcellus, a South American rodent. It is unrelated to the pig; the name may refer to its shrill squeal. . Ballet helped keep her focused on the task at hand. All the other throwers are miffed miff
1. A petulant, bad-tempered mood; a huff.
2. A petty quarrel or argument; a tiff.
tr.v. miffed, miff·ing, miffs
To cause to become offended or annoyed. by her improvement and now they want to try it.''
Hicks leads the Big Sky Conference in the discus and could also contend for a title in the shot put, although the discus is her preferred event.
``I like the sight of the discus flying through the air when you throw it properly,'' Hicks said. ``It's like art. It's almost like a flying saucer flying saucer: see unidentified flying objects. .''
At 6-foot-2, Hicks stands out in her ballet class like something from another world. She is the tallest student - male or female - in the course that has students ranging from beginners to dancers with more than 10 years of experience.
While her classmates Classmates can refer to either:
``There are some petite women and she definitely stands out,'' ballet instructor Louise Mandel said about Hicks.
Although Roberts' or Hicks' teammates have yet to catch a glimpse Verb 1. catch a glimpse - see something for a brief time
catch sight, get a look
see - perceive by sight or have the power to perceive by sight; "You have to be a good observer to see all the details"; "Can you see the bird in that tree?"; "He is blind--he of Hicks during ballet class, they are eager to see her solo performance at the course final's recital.
By then, Hicks hopes to master the adagio a·da·gio
adv. & adj. Music
In a slow tempo, usually considered to be slower than andante but faster than larghetto. Used chiefly as a direction.
n. pl. a·da·gios
1. - a maneuver in which the dancer balances on one leg and lifts the other as high as she can while completing a 360-degree turn.
``I can only go about 180 degrees,'' Hicks said, laughing. ``I still can't do it without someone holding me.''
However, what Hicks has been able to gain through ballet is improved flexibility and agility.
``It has made a big difference,'' Hicks said. ``It's a lot better than doing drills. Drills are bad. They were torture.''
In addition to ballet, Hicks also cited a more structured training program as well as intense supervision from Roberts during workouts as factors in her improvement. In high school, Hicks was self-coached and worked out on her own.
``I looked at her as a big challenge before the season began,'' Roberts said. ``She showed no signs of talent whatsoever for the first three months I worked with her. What has impressed me is how much underdeveloped potential she has.''
Still, it's a good bet intermediate ballet will be on Hicks' class schedule next semester.
Photo: Cal State Northridge freshman Cheree Hicks began taking ballet class to improve her technique in track and field.
(2--AV only) Cheree Hicks twice broke the Matadors' school record in the women's discus this season. She also competes in the shot put.
Tom Mendoza Tom Mendoza joined Network Appliance, Inc. in 1994 and has served as its President since 2000. Mr. Mendoza has more than 31 years as a high technology executive and has served in an advisory capacity on the board of directors of Netscreen (acquired by Juniper), Rhapsody (acquired by / Daily News