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Head Basketball Coach
Malakoff High School
Middle School Principal
Mineral Wells Index
Nickerson celebrates his 300th win at Malakoff High SchoolBy Craig Holamon Index Sports Editor MALAKOFF -- In Malakoff, they call DeArtis Nickerson Jr. "The Dean."Some fans just call him "Nick" and he jokingly calls himself "Tiger Jr." but in Mineral Wells, Nickerson is remembered as a Rams basketball and track star.Nickerson, who is called "The Dean" because of his longevity on the Malakoff coaching staff, recorded his 300th win as a head basketball coach on Feb. 7 at MHS.A 57-47 win over the Cross Roads Bobcats gave Nickerson the milestone victory.Special ceremonies marked the occasion.Nickerson said the night was special for him and the Nickerson family."It was great.It was special getting my 300th win at home.My parents and my sister came down from Mineral Wells.I had a lot of friends who were there and our fans were out in force," Nickerson said."My Dad (DeArtis Nickerson Sr.) had just had knee surgery, so I didn't think he would make it to the game but he was there on crutches," Nickerson said.Nickerson said much of his success as a basketball coach stems from his playing days at Mineral Wells High School."I give a lot of credit to my coaches, Jackie Harvey and Warren Pruitt."Coach Harvey meant everything to me.He taught me how to be an athlete and a lot about what it means to be a man."My basketball coach, Warren Pruitt, helped me grow up and made me a better basketball player," Nickerson said."I owe both of them a lot," Nickerson added.Nickerson cut down nets and was honored by school officials during the celebration that followed the win.Nickerson was presented with a basketball autographed by his team and a special cake to commemorate the occasion.Hugs and handshakes from friends, family and fans were plentiful.Nickerson's 300th win helped the Mustangs clinch a state playoff berth for the first time in three seasons."It was great to get it (win number 300) at home in front of my family, so many friends and the Malakoff fans.I appreciate everyone's support."Nickerson got a lot of support and a measure of respect from his peers before the night was over.Ronnie Snow, who served as an assist to Nickerson in the early 1990s and is presently an assistant principal in the Athens ISD, was also in attendance.Nickerson is also credited with bringing a comatose Malakoff track program back to life in the 1980s.The former MWHS standout is not just a basketball coach.He is also a member of the school football coaching staff, the school's head cross country coach and has served as a middle school principal.Nickerson, who is proud that he has delivered five Malakoff commencement addresses, said his involvement with students is something he is proud of."If I touch one person; you know that's important.I like to lead by example.That's what my daddy instilled in me," Nickerson said.Nickerson's only job as a coach has been in Malakoff where he has spent the past 16 years building a sensational career record of 300-170.Nickerson, who is a 1978 Mineral Wells High School graduate, took over as the boys basketball coach in Malakoff in 1987 and has been there ever since.During his 16 seasons on the sidelines, Nickerson's Tigers have only had two losing seasons.In 1987 the Mustangs ended the year at 13-17 and in 2000 his team went 10-15.In 1999 Nickerson's team had a 26-6 record and reached the Class 2A regional finals.Nickerson's Tigers won 18 consecutive games during the 1991-92 season and reached the regional semifinals before ending the year at 27-5.His basketball teams reached the state playoffs five years in a row between 1989 and 1994."I guess I've been spoiled because I like going to the playoffs every year.I've had opportunities to go other places, but it always comes back to Malakoff," Nickerson said.Nickerson said the only place he would consider coaching outside of Malakoff is Mineral Wells."I've really been blessed in Malakoff with a lot of great players.But Mineral Wells is still my hometown.My family lives there."I would love to come home and be the basketball coach at Mineral Wells High School.It just hasn't happened," Nickerson said.Nickerson, who played in the state tournament finals in 1978 as a senior at MWHS, is a member of a honors team in the Mineral Wells Athletic Hall of Fame.