By James McBee, FNF Coaches Correspondent
In January of 2013, Joey Hawkins never dreamed that his own weight loss journey would lead to him becoming a head strength coach. Here he sits four years later taking over the reins of the Woodmont High (S.C.) strength program.
It may seem like an extreme goal for Hawkins, better known as “Coach Hawk” to his players, to plan for a team coming off a 3-8 season to win a state championship, but don’t tell that to the ambitious new coach.
Hawkins’ belief in accomplishing extreme goals that not only allowed him to lose 75 pounds in 2013, but has inspired kids that work with him to reach their own extreme goals. When Hawkins started his own weight loss journey, he took inspiration from offseason workout plans that he found online from LSU and Alabama and began to build his own plan.
“It was during that time that I just really grew a passion for it,” Hawkins said. “I remember thinking that this is something I want to continue to do and share it with others.”
Hawkins got his first taste of coaching when he started working with Ben Clark, a former Byrnes and Carson-Newman University offensive lineman.
“I knew Ben’s dad, and he had seen my weight loss journey,” Hawkins said. “I began to work with Ben after his senior year and helped him prepare for his freshman season in college. It was then that I realized that becoming a strength coach and doing this on a team level is something I wanted to pursue.”
It wasn’t an easy road for Hawkins to become a strength coach. He knocked on many doors for an opportunity, but couldn’t find an opportunity until a chance meeting with Boiling Springs’ athletic director Hal McManus.
“I was working as a sports talk radio host when I went to a Boiling Springs football game against my alma mater, Spartanburg High School,” Hawkins said. “I asked Coach McManus if there was any chance I could join their program as an assistant strength coach, and he said, ‘Absolutely.’”
It was then that Coach Hawk got his opportunity and wanted to make the most of it.
When “Coach Hawk” began at Boiling Springs, he wanted to soak up as much knowledge as he could as an assistant. It was during his second year that he got his opportunity to bring what he had learned to the table as he began to work with the football team.
“In that second year I had some ideas I wanted to implement, and Coach Tate (Boiling Springs’ head football coach) was great because he let me kind of do my thing with the football strength program,” Hawkins said.
The one thing he has learned as a strength coach is that “you’re not only a coach but you’re also a mentor; to some you’re a father figure and sometimes you’re just the person they need to listen. These kids truly don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”
Hawkins said that one of his mentors in the strength and conditioning world is Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran.
“You know some people don’t like him, but what they don’t realize is that a lot of the things that he does is to get the kids to buy in,” Hawkins said. “I think that’s one of the most important jobs of a strength coach.”
This past season Hawkins implemented a lot of those same techniques with the Boiling Springs football strength program, and it helped as the Bulldogs reached the first state championship game in school history.
“I was truly blessed to work with such great people like Coach Tate and Coach McManus at Boiling Springs and now with Coach Turner and Coach Carter at Woodmont,” Hawkins said.
“Coach Hawk” is now the head strength coach at Woodmont High School in Greenville County, where he joins new head football coach Jet Turner.
“I told people for years I couldn’t wait to get my own house, my own weight room, and now I have it,” Hawkins said.
It has been quite the journey for Hawkins and now he gets to lead the way with a few extreme goals still left to tackle. As Coach Hawk always tells his players, “Here we go.”
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