Friday, September 03, 1999

Hawkins' resume: receiver, long snapper, mom




BY RAY SCHAEFER
Enquirer contributor

[hawkins]
Ginger Hawkins, playing for her second season, poses with son Blake.
(Saed Hindash photo)
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        DRY RIDGE — Picture a high school junior who carries a 3.45 GPA, plays football, has a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant and is active in two school organizations.

        Then add an active 2-year-old son to chase after.

        That's Grant County junior Ginger Hawkins' life. The 5-foot-4 backup wide receiver/free safety/long snapper from Williamstown juggles a busy schedule while raising her son Blake.

        The second-year player wants to be treated no differently from the rest of the Braves and she has gained much more from having Blake in her life than the free time she has lost.

        “I feel like I've matured a lot,” said the 16-year-old Hawkins. “You see a lot of 16-year-olds at school that fight for stupid stuff. Blake's made me see a lot of what I need to do and why.”

        Grant County coach Mike Croley lauds her for prioritizing a busy life.

        “In my book, she's an outstanding kid,” he said. “She made a mistake early in life but has turned it into a positive. And she's tough as nails on the football field.”

        Hawkins long ago earned her teammates' respect. They'll give her a ride to school or work if needed and Hawkins says players and coaches treat her like one of their family.

        Senior fullback Jeff Sydnor had his doubts when Hawkins came out for football last year.

        “It was something new,” Sydnor said. “I think a lot of the players respect her for taking our hits.”

[hawkins]
Hawkins says football is a sort of therapy.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Hawkins also has impressed school officials.

        “She's very active in school,” Grant County principal Joyce Doyle said. “She's very modest; she doesn't go around saying, "I'm a football player.'”

        Hawkins doesn't have time for bragging because her days start early.

        She's up at 5:30 a.m., has Blake at day care by 6:30 and is in school by 7. She stays at school until 2:50 p.m., then goes to football practice and then work at a McDonald's in Dry Ridge while a family member watches Blake. Then she does homework and is in bed by 1 or 2 a.m.

        Hawkins says studying so late is hard and she misses getting enough sleep.

        “I hate that alarm clock,” she said. “I've had three of them because I threw them.”

        Hawkins spends time with Blake around school, work and football practice, She took him to several school dances last year.

        “I figure, why not take him with me?” she said. “He loves that kind of stuff. It's time I get to spend with him.”

        Hawkins also experiences the usual tensions of motherhood, which is why the football field is good therapy.

        “When stuff (doesn't) go my way and it all builds up, I get frustrated,” she said. “I whine it out, cry it out. Once I get to football, I usually let it out on the guys who are in front of me.”

        Croley said placing Hawkins at long snapper (she's third on the depth chart) is the best way to protect her because state rules prohibit centers from being touched on punts and field-goal attempts for several seconds.

        “Long snapping is something where she can make a positive contribution on this team,” he said. “And I think she's earned that opportunity if she gets good enough at the skill. It's not a skill that only a guy can do; she's proven this is not just a guy's game.”

        The state athletic associations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana all report occasional instances of girls in football — most of them placekickers. Locally, Trisha Roeder was a backup offensive lineman for Newport in 1995 and '96.

        Each state's association makes its own determination of whether girls can play football.

        Hawkins played at free safety and split end in Saturday's 45-12 loss to Garrard County. She said long snapping is her favorite spot.

        “I don't like split (end) that well because I have to catch, and I hate catching,” she said. “I'm not coordinated. I can do it, but I like free safety better. I get to go and kill somebody; I love it.”

        Hawkins' goals are high. She wants to marry and be a heart surgeon someday because she wants to find a cure for congestive heart diseases, but for now her greater goal is to provide a stable home for Blake — and she wouldn't mind if his future included football.

        “He's part of my life,” she said. “He's going to be part of it.”

Week 2 Report



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N.KY. FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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