Thursday, December 29, 2016

Catching up with .... Janice Hawkins, Auburn

Recently, Zach Couper of Boylan became the just the fifth boys or girls NIC-10 player to score 50 points in a game. After his effort, I posted the known list of 40-point plus boys single-game scorers and girls single-game scorers. Auburn Principal Janice Hawkins is on the girls list. Hawkins was a first-team all-conference player for Auburn in 1983-1984 and 1984-1985 and ended up with 1,104 career points.

I gave Ms. Hawkins a call over Christmas break to talk hoops.

Q: Do you remember your 40-point game?

“I do remember my 40-point game. I still have the article. It was in Orangeville against Orangeville. They put three or four people on me, but it didn’t matter. Our center, Debby Anger, scored 30 that night. We scored 77 and won by 3 or 4 so we needed all those points.”

Q: What was the Janice Hawkins go-to move? 

“I would drive and pull up and shoot a mid-range jumper. I could go full speed and pull up on a dime and shoot without charging.”

Q: Do you get to watch much basketball now?

“I do when I’m supervising, and it’s a different game now. It’s all 3’s and layups. My shot is extinct.”

Q: I’ve always wanted to ask. Is there as much trash talk in the girls’ game?

“Not as much. I would get it from one player. West had a center, Cheryl Robinson. She was a beast inside and out. We would take it as a personal challenge to do our best against each other. She’d tell her teammates “don’t foul her. Let her come to me.” She was 6-2 and I was 5-6. She really wanted to block my snappy pull-up. She never did. She got her points, and I got mine.”

(Robinson actually ended up with 1,107 career points for West, just ahead of Hawkins)

Hawkins’ professional career with the Rockford School District started in 2000 when she came in as an assistant principal at Flinn Middle School. She spent three years as principal at Guilford before moving over to Auburn at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

Q: What lessons did you learn in athletics that has helped you in your professional career?

“First, let me do some more trash talking. You should give an asterisk to everyone who scored 40 points in a game or 1,000 points in a career after me. My senior year was the last year we used the men’s ball and then a few years later they added the 3-point line. All my points came before that.

I remember finally using the smaller ball in college and I thought ‘this is a lot easier.’

What I learned from athletics is that there is no substitute for hard work. I would go to Fairgrounds in the middle of the summer and if no one was there I’d shoot 100 jumpers from the left, 100 from the right, 100 from the front, then I’d shoot 100 free throws right-handed and 100 free throws left-handed."

Q: You’d practice shooting free throws left-handed?

“I got to the point where I shot them better left-handed. 

I’d play pickup ball with the guys, and I was good enough that I’d always get picked for games. That’s why when I’d go back and play in a girls game, I felt like no girl could hold me.

The guys actually would bet other guys to play me one-on-one. That’s how I earned their respect.”

Q: Do you remember how you did overall in those one-on-one matchups?

“Let’s just say it wasn’t smart to bet against me.”

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