When Matt Hicks leads, others follow. Having honed his leadership skills as both a lifeguard at the Summit Family Aquatic Center and in college as a Resident Assistant, he knows what it takes to be in charge.
Hicks grew up in Summit and graduated from Summit High School in 2009, where he played ice hockey and golf for the Hilltoppers. The 19-year-old enjoyed growing up in Summit and cites Randazzo Pizzeria as his favorite restaurant in the Hill City.
Following high school, Hicks enrolled in Niagara University in upstate New York, where he received an academic scholarship. The rising sophomore is currently a History major and aspiring lawyer. As an RA, he supervises the students living in his residence hall or dormitory. Hicks recounted the series of events that led to his becoming an RA as a freshman–an extremely rare privilege.
"First semester, I had a roommate just like everyone else," Hicks said. "Second semester, one of the RA's resigned, so they asked all of the RA's to recommend someone for the open position. My RA recommended me, and I guess they liked me in the interview, so I got the job."
"Apparently it's pretty rare to be an RA as a freshman," Hicks continued. "I didn't know any different because it was my first year in school, but I had a few people come up to me and ask if I was a freshman and an RA. They were pretty surprised when I said that I was."
Hicks plans to attend Law School after graduation but is unsure of whether or not he'll return to the Garden State.
"I love school so much, and I'm really starting to love the Buffalo area, so I may stay up there after I graduate," Hicks said." It's cold up there, but as soon as March 1 hits, it's really nice out. Winter can be brutal, but spring gets there kind of early."
During the summer, Hicks spends most of his time as a Summit lifeguard. He has lifeguarded for four years at the SFAC and three years at the Summit YMCA, where he also received his lifeguard certification. Hicks' training was tested just a few weeks into the job.
"My first year–a few weeks in–a kid went down the swirly slide (at the SFAC), went right to the bottom, and didn't come back up," Hicks said. "That was the first and, so far, only save I've had to make."
"My first summer as a lifeguard, I was really nervous," Hicks added. "But now I'm more relaxed and if anything bad happens, I know that I'm prepared and I know how to react to it. The more experience you have, the easier it comes."
When asked to describe his daily tasks as a lifeguard at the SFAC, Hicks put it in plain and simple terms.
"We have to sit, stand, and make sure everyone is safe and following the rules," he said. "As long as everyone goes home safely, we've done our job."
Hicks admits that being outside in the sun rather than stuck inside an office originally drew him to the lifeguarding position at the SFAC. But there was another perk as well.
"It's just a fun job, and I get to be with my friends," Hicks said. "We have a lifeguard party every year at the end of the season, where we can just enjoy the pool and slides by ourselves. We grill out hamburgers and hotdogs. It's a lot of fun."
For the remainder of the summer, Hicks plans to spend time with his family and friends and, of course, supervise the SFAC and Summit YMCA swimming pools.
"I'll make a few trips up to Buffalo to visit friends too," Hicks said. "I actually can't wait to go back to school. I had a great time my freshman year."
Stay tuned to Patch this summer for more profiles of SFAC senior lifeguards.