Wilcks goes into Wolf Pack Athletic Hall of Fame
Loyalty is something that Todd Wilcks knows all about. Since the University of Nevada stayed loyal to him, Wilcks rewarded the school’s loyalty in kind.
The lifelong Minden native continues to reap the rewards of a career in which he showed that the school’s confidence in him was well-placed. Wilcks went on to have an All-American career as an offensive lineman in football for Nevada and in 1998 was named to the school’s Team of the Century in football.
He is now going into the Wolf Pack Athletic Hall of Fame. “It was an amazing feeling,” said Wilcks about his selection to the hall of fame.
“I was shocked. It was something I would have never dreamed of happening.”
Wilcks will be honored at the Homecoming Awards Gala Dinner to be held Oct. 23 at Circus Circus. His induction ceremony will be held during halftime of the Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 25 against Louisiana Tech. Game time is 1 p.m.
A 1977 Douglas High graduate, Wilcks didn’t look to have a bright future when he suffered a season-ending knee injury during the fourth game of his senior year.
“UNR was really the only place that was willing to take a chance on me after my knee injury,” Wilcks said.
So it’s no surprise that Wilcks continues to feel loyal to the Wolf Pack.
“They’ve been a big part of my life since I got up there,” he said. “There’s a lot of Silver and Blue running through my veins.”
After redshirting his first year, Wilcks went on to become a four-year starter for Nevada from 1978-1981. He entered as a 6-3, 230-pound lineman and eventually bulked up to 270 pounds.
During his time at Nevada, the Wolf Pack compiled a 32-13-1 record. Wilcks was a two-time all-Big Sky selection and earned Associated Press All-America honors in 1981.
His devastating blocking was a key reason why Frank Hawkins, who went on to play for the Raiders, led the nation in rushing in 1980.
One of Wilcks most memorable moments was Hawkins’ last game against Idaho at Mackay Stadium. Hawkins needed 280 yards to become the NCAA’s third leading all-time career rusher.
Wilcks said the offensive line was determined to make sure that Hawkins would reach the mark. By halftime Hawkins had 200 yards and he had the mark by the end of the third quarter.
“He’s a good friend and he was a great teammate,” Wilcks said. Wilcks said that Hawkins made sure that the offensive line received just as much credit for his achievements as he did.
Another memorable moment for Wilcks was when Nevada beat UNLV in Las Vegas to return the Fremont Cannon to Reno.
He also has fond memories of his coach, Chris Ault, now the school’s athletic director.
“He was a great coach, a great motivator,” Wilcks said. “He would push you to your limit to see what he thought he could get out of you.”
Ault wanted to make sure that in a fourth and one situation, “he could count on you to get the job done,” Wilcks said.
“Todd was an outstanding player, but most importantly he was a quality leader,” Ault said.
After his playing career, Wilcks became a graduate assistant
Wilcks legacy at Douglas lives on. His son, Matt, a 2002 Douglas graduate, played football and participated in wrestling at the school. His daughter, Kaycee, will be a three-year starter for the Douglas varsity softball team this year as a senior.
Two other former greats will join Wilcks in this year’s hall of fame class: swimming standout Robin Thein and basketball star Kevin Soares.
Thein, from Wooster High, finished third in the 200-meter backstroke and fourth in the 100 back for the Nevada women’s swim team at the 1982 AIAW Division II Championships. During the 1983 championships, she set a national record in winning the 200 back and also took second in the 100 back and third in the 50 back.
“She was an awesome swimmer and a real leader,” said Jerry Ballew, who was Thein’s coach.
Soares, a four-year starter from Bishop Gorman, was named Big Sky co-Player of the Year in 1992. During that season, he led Nevada to a 19-10 record, which included a heart-breaking loss to Montana in the conference tournament finals. Soares is the school’s all-time leader in steals and assists.
“Kevin had unbelievable drive and determination,” said Len Stevens, who was Soares’ coach. “he continued to get better every day for his entire career whether it be in the weightroom, the court, or in the classroom.”
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.