Wickenburg will always be home to college baseball player and Little League coach Tanner Wickham, who is proud of his small town roots and grateful for the opportunities and support he received in following his dreams of becoming a college athlete.
“I loved growing up in a small town because everyone knows everyone,” said Wickham. “Wickenburg is a family town. We are all here for each other. Growing up here definitely shaped me into the man I have become.”
“I’ve met so many new people and friends from this little game, and I’m thankful for it to be such a huge aspect of my life,” said Wickham.
Since the days of Little League and four years of varsity ball at Wickenburg High School, Wickham has moved to California to play at Barstow Community College. He felt he wanted to go experience someplace new, while continuing to play the game he loves. It was a decision he made that would be positive and meaningful, although it meant leaving his family and this small town behind.
“I felt I needed to get out of town and experience life somewhere else for a change. Even though it was very tough for me to be away from my family and friends all the time, it created this fire in me to push harder,” said Wickham. “I felt as if I should do it for my town or my family and even my state. It was the best feeling ever. It was very tough, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Although Wickham enjoyed his time in a small town and the memories it gave him, learning to play on a bigger scale has been an adjustment, but the experience has been positive. Not only has he grown as an athlete, he’s learned that hard work is the key to success.
“This experience made me realize that nothing is handed to you. That you have to earn everything,” said Wickham. “For the first time I had to start from the bottom and work my way up, but once you get to the top, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
After a year in California playing college baseball, Wickham has come back home to instill the same work ethic, skill and passion he has for the game into up-and-coming players through coaching Little League. Playing Little League helped get him to where he is today, and he is grateful to be giving back to his community by inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m so proud of my kids and so thankful to have this opportunity not only to pass on everything I know to these young players, but to remember the starting point of all great players are the fundamentals,” said Wickham. “This game has created special bonds for me as a coach and for my players to hopefully grow into great athletes alongside their friends like I did.”
Not only do the young athletes benefit from his experience and coaching, but Wickham gains the respect of the players and gets to be a the role model, like his dad was for him.
“The biggest benefit for me coaching younger kids is being a role model,” said Wickham. “I know I would do anything for these kids in a heart beat, and for them to look up to me makes me the happiest young man in the world.”
Beyond coaching and playing, Wickham is unsure of his future, but knows one thing for sure: “As long as I have baseball, nothing can go wrong.”