TONASKET — Longtime Tonasket high school football coach Jay Hawkins announced his retirement, after 20 years of head coaching for the Tigers. His retirement marks the end of an era in Tiger football history.
The “Hawk” has deep roots in Tiger football. His grandfather Ole Drew played on one of the first football teams in 1923. His dad played in the 50’s and he himself played for the Tigers in the late 70’s.
His daughter, and one of his most faithful fans, Jayden Hawkins, said her dad is a humble man who has built lasting relationships with his players.
“When he was a senior, Tonasket played in the state playoff game against Cle Elum and my dad played with a broken hand. He went on to play two years of college football for Whitworth University. My dad is very humble. No one really even knows that he played college football and he never talks about it.” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said in 2016 her father was nominated as head coach for the East-West Classic All Star football game in Yakima.
“My dad went to Yakima and was the head coach and has volunteered there for at least the last 15 years,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said her father is known for his love for his players and he is one of the biggest reasons she herself became a coach.
Team dinner nights is something that is a fond memory for many players who Hawkins coached over the years.
“My memories of football and my dad from when I was younger, included boys rolling in with their pickup trucks, coming in and eating mass amounts of food and watching game footage. My parents went on shopping excursions on Sunday mornings to get all this food for the teenage boys. Initially and for a long time, my mom and dad covered the bill because they knew it was important in building team morale. Eventually all of the parents started contributing as well because they saw how much it meant to the team,” said Hawkins.
Jay Hawkins has served a total of 34 years in football. He was an assistant coach for Oroville high school for eight years, six years as assistant coach in Tonasket and then spent 20 years as head coach. His wife, Teresa Hawkins, faithfully stood by her husband’s side in his season of coaching, camera in tow, where ever he was, and playing an active role in the success of his coaching carreer.
“I was lucky to have such a great family that supported me through all the years. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by such a great coaching staff. Coaches that had passion for the game and are awesome friends,” said Coach Hawkins.
Hawkins said he and his coaching staff have always believed that the top priority for Tiger Football was to provide a great experience for all the kids that played.
“There were so many highlights over the years. When you start reflecting on the 34 years you realize that the majority of the memories happen during all the practice time,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said he could write a book on all the great kids that he’s had the pleasure to coach in his time as football coach.
“When you start thinking about memorable games there becomes plenty. It
seems like every team had a memorable game each season. I have learned a lot through coaching. We were always striving to challenge each other and become better as coaches,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said he hopes that the kids who have played for the Tigers have lasting enthusiasm for their time playing football.