Cody Hitchcock has logged a lot of laps running up and down the court at Earl Crabbe Gym in recent weeks.
The Placer High School sophomore, however, doesn’t play basketball: He’s the official Hillmen flag runner.
Anybody who has been to a Placer boys or girls basketball game in the last two seasons has most likely spotted Hitchcock waving the gigantic green and gold flag while the Golden Hillmen Marching Band plays its regular repertoire of rocking tunes.
Sometimes, Hitchcock sports face paint while running the flag. But for big showdowns he prefers to paint his face gold and spray his hair green.
Hitchcock is fond of his role on the court and plans on continuing it until he graduates.
“It’s fun and gets the Gold Mine going and it fuels the team,” he said.
Hitchcock obtained the gig after going to a road matchup last year and noticing that the other team had a flag runner but Placer didn’t.
“I was at a Colfax game and I saw they brought their flag so I asked the ASB teacher Mr. (Mike) Sabins if we had one and we did,” Hitchcock said. “So he gave me the position.”
Sabins, the school’s activities director, admires Hitchcock’s pride in being Placer’s full-time flag runner.
“Our mascot at the time was doing it and it was hit and miss. Cody’s taken it over. It’s his thing. He’s having a ball doing it.
“We’ve never had one dedicated like him. He’s at every home basketball game and he also did it during football.”
Hitchcock finds his work to be rather rewarding.
“It gives the players and coaches some inspiration because they’re always coming up to me after the game and thanking me for running the flag and say that it helped them a lot,” he said.
Placer’s boys and girls varsity basketball teams have a combined 17-4 record when playing in Auburn this season. It’s possible Hitchcock’s contributions have helped toward the home-court advantage.
“What he does, he jacks up the crowd by running the flag back and forth with it waving,” said Lady Hillmen coach Tony Camillucci. “I love to see him on campus. He always is a true fan. He makes comments on campus to me about the games whether we win or lose.
“It’s great to have somebody that has that much enthusiasm at our school. We have a lot of great fans. He does a great job of pumping them up.”
Camillucci and Sabins are both glad that Hitchcock has found his place at Placer.
“It’s great that kids can find a niche at the school and participate,” Camillucci said. “He found a niche. He found something he loves and he’s good at it.”
Hitchcock, who hopes to pass the torch to a fellow Hillman once he becomes an alumnus, said a lot of people in town recognize him since he’s taken up the flag-running position.
“In the middle of the summer, since I live right by campus, I walk around campus a lot,” Hitchcock said. “A girl walking her dog saw my dog and didn’t realize it was me until she walked past me and then said, ‘Hey, wait. You’re the flag runner.’”
And it’s that type of recognition that Hitchcock enjoys.
“It helps my self-esteem,” he said, “and makes me feel really good about myself.”
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel