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Hawkins eager to teach, coach boys' basketball at North Miami

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Cliff Hawkins is a man who’s seen a basketball game or two in his coaching career.

A 36-year veteran of Indiana high school basketball, Hawkins will be bringing his many years of experience to the hardwood at North Miami next year after being voted to take over the boys’ basketball team for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Hawkins, who was at Madison Consolidated schools the past three years, said his initial meeting with the North Miami administration made him feel right at home.

“I was looking for an opportunity to teach again and coach,” Hawkins said. “I had been the athletic director as well as head coach and while I loved doing that, my passion has always been teaching and coaching.

“When I came up here, I met the team in place and felt like it was something I could join. A lot of people who know me know that it’s not about where I coach but why I coach, which is always the way it’s been for me and I see a great opportunity to build something at North Miami that everyone can be proud of.”

Hawkins, who will teach at the school in the physical education department and also has experience teaching history, has been at several different schools throughout the state of Indiana.

With stops at Caston, Tri-Central, Greenfield-Central, DeKalb, Center Grove and Madison, along with time at Indiana State University, Hawkins has seen plenty of basketball, sporting a record of 486-326, but always found that those involved with the programs were his favorite part of each location.

 “Basketball is a sport that has to be played in a certain way but they do play a little differently in one area or another based on the talent pool available,” Hawkins said. “The best part is the relationships that are built up over all the years.

“When you’re starting out, you’re trying to climb to the top but the number of people you meet along the way can allow you to come back to where your roots are.”

Taking on additional responsibilities at Madison the past two years did weight on Hawkins, who said he enjoyed the experience at the southern Indiana school but felt he was at his best when teaching students and coaching.

“I went to Madison as a teacher but after my first year there, they had some turnover and were in dire straits, so I jumped in there took the athletic director spot,” Hawkins pointed out. “As athletic director, you’re constantly working with a lot of people, sometimes answering questions as you come off the court.

“In year one, I was able to run the basketball team the way I wanted to but in years two and three, while running the athletic department and being conscientious of everything going on around the school, it made things difficult to keep both going strong. That’s part of the reason I made this choice because, being true to myself, I wanted to teach and to coach.”

Hawkins said that he was able to meet the team for the first time this week and appreciated not only their enthusiasm but the work of the coaching staffs before him.

“We had a meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday with the players,” Hawkins said. “I was very excited to meet the players on the team.

“The first thing we want to do is instill the mindset of, no matter what you do, to do things better than you’ve ever done them before. Whatever happens in this first year, when we come back in year two, we’ll do things better than we’ve ever done them before.

“Talking with Clay (Bolser) and Matt (Storm), two people I knew before I came here, I know that they’ve worked hard to build this program,” Hawkins added. “A feeder program has been built and what we want to do is come in, enhance that and take it to another level.

“The teams I’ve coached have won a lot of games and a lot of that comes down to program building, taking their skill levels and belief in themselves to a higher level. We want to make sure we do that in the high school house while doing the same at the lower levels.”

While there were still details that needed to be finalized at Madison before being able to be available full time at North Miami, Hawkins said he was eager to return to the classroom and get to work as a Warrior. 

“This school system is important to the community and is the essence of a community,” Hawkins said. “I’m very excited to begin here. 

“The summer will be a little shorter with a few responsibilities to finish up at Madison but that’s all been talked about and I couldn’t be happier right now to be here.”