In collegiate athletics, every University has that one coach that is the epitome of what their school embodies. That coach has success, but is not just known for his or her success, but for their actions. Several young Men and Women in this country have spent 4 years with a coach away from home that was not just a Coach, but a mentor, a role model, and friend. The University of Texas has Darrell K. Royal and Judy Conrad, Alabama has Bear Bryant, Texas Tech has Spike Dykes and Marsha Sharpe, Texas A&M has R.C. Slocum. Oklahoma has Barry Switzer, and Tennessee has Pat Summitt.
Texas A&M-Commerce has Ernest Hawkins.
All of the names I have named above have buildings, arenas, or facilities on the respective campuses named after them. These men and women did not give money or means to their schools, because they had given enough in the currency of blood, sweat and tears and had done so much for the University. That said, it is time to honor a man of integrity who has given over half of his life to Texas A&M-Commerce and the City of Commerce as well.
Coach Hawkins moved to Commerce in 1957 after serving as a Football Coach, Basketball Coach, and Athletic Director at Paris Junior College. Hired by J.V. Sikes as an assistant after completing his Master’s degree in Commerce, he helped the dominance of the Lions in the Lone Star Conference during the fifties and early sixties. He became head coach in the Spring of 1964 when Sikes passed away unexpectedly. The program was starting to plateau, and in 5 seasons, he had two conference championships, and in 10 years he had 3 conference titles, a Bowl appearance and a National Championship. Coach Hawkins is Lion Football. Even after retiring in 1985, Coach Hawk continued to serve in various roles and capacities. Even now, he is seen at every home Basketball game and every Football game.
With Coach Hawk in the winter of his life, this school and program owes almost 30 seasons of success to him, and that is why I am calling for one of the two things to happen as soon as possible.
- Rename Memorial Stadium Ernest Hawkins-Commerce Memorial Stadium. This honors Coach Hawkins and shows him the largest stadium in Hunt County has his name attached to it. Putting Commerce in the name makes an outreach to the City that the school has been sitting on for the past 120 years, and finally it rightfully honors the Brave Men who sacrificed their all during World War II and make sure that the plaque is on display for all to see, especially the younger students. Making sure that all history is taught is very important.
- The Alternative to this would be to name the field Ernest Hawkins Field and therefore the name would go by Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium. I would prefer the first option, but having something named for Coach Hawk is essential. I would also like to have something inside the stadium or outside that not only says he is the winningest coach in the school’s history, but what he did as an athlete at Texas Tech and what his life has been all about.
This has gone on long enough, and I am calling on the school to do the right thing, and honor this man who has done so much for the Football program, the City, and for our Alma Mater.
No more excuses, let’s get to it, and soon. Nothing would make so many us Lions more happy than to see Coach Hawkins at mid-field as the school unveils either naming the field or Stadium. This is not complicated nor should it be made that way and not something that needs to have a lot of thought, this is one of those questions that have a very clear answer.