Herbert L. “Coach” Hawkes was born May 12, 1938, in Louisville, Kentucky and died June 3, 2018 in Greenville, Tennessee.
Coach graduated from Elon College, where he played basketball in 1960 and 1961. He also earned a master of arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He taught and coached basketball at Graham High School in North Carolina for five years and was responsible for organizing the school’s first middle school teams and recreation leagues. He convinced Robert Canady to become the first African-American student to attend Graham High School, so that he could play for Coach’s 1965-66 basketball team, the Graham Red Devils. He also got several local black high school basketball players to attend Elon College’s summer basketball camp.
In 1968, Hawkes took a teaching and coaching job at Greeneville (Tennessee) High School, where he taught driver’s education and coached basketball and golf for 32 years.
Highlights from his long coaching career include multiple district and regional championships in both golf and basketball. Teams led by Coach Hawkes were the first in GHS history to appear in a state championship tournament. He was named Tennessee State Athletic Association Coach of the Year several times and was inducted into the Greeneville High School Hall of Fame in 2009.
He was a member of St. James Episcopal Church, where he served on the Vestry and volunteered for many years at the Greeneville food bank.
Coach had many interests, including woodcarving, furniture building, gardening, fishing, crossword puzzles, reading, and joking with students at Greeneville High School and having his driver education students drive him around Greeneville so he could run his errands.
Although he hated flying, Coach loved travelling, he visited countries all over the world. He climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge, walked the Great Wall of China, rode an elephant in Thailand, white-water rafted in Bali, Indonesia, visited the castles and pubs of Great Britain, fished in Canada and golfed in Singapore.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Nancy Hawkes; and his parents: Herbert L. Hawkes Jr. and Nell Ramsey.
He is survived by his second wife, Theodore J. Grace; his daughters: Robin Hawkes (David Tartak), of Sydney, Australia, and Renne (Bill Chipman) Chipman, of Kennesaw, Georgia; his sister: Karen Taylor, of Louisville, Kentucky; an aunt: Merle Edwards, of Greensboro, Kentucky; stepchildren: Ellen Smead, of Atlanta, Georgia, Elizabeth (Brian Dukes) Dukes, of Greenville, South Carolina, and Emily Smead (Renee Trent), of Seymour; 11 grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; and his special friend: Michael “Captain Mick” Davenport
He was inurned at GreeneLawn Memory Gardens.
–adapted from Coach Hawkes’ obituary as published in the Greenville Sun, June 3, 2018.
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Coach Hawkes was inducted into the Greeneville Sports Hall of Fame on October 23, 2009. Its webpage summarizes his career:
Coach Hawkes was the GHS boys head basketball coach for 32 years. During that time he had a 653-395 coaching record This included 18 seasons with 20 or more wins. His teams earned a total of 12 District Championships and were runner-up in the district 5 times. He won 2 regional championships, in 1973-74 and in 1986-87, and second place in 1980-81. Three of his teams advanced to sub-state play and the 1986-87 team advanced to the State Championship Final Four, where they established a record of 34-3. Including his four year head coaching stint in North Carolina prior to coming to Greeneville, Hawkes had only seven losing seasons in 36 years of coaching basketball.
Coach Hawkes also led the GHS golf team for 30 years. During that time the boys golf team won 14 IMAC conference titles, 15 district championships, 8 regional championships, and made 8 state tournament team appearances. His 1980 team’s state tournament appearance was the first by any team in any sport at GHS. In 1983, his boy’s golf team brought home the first and only team state championship in Greeneville High School history, and in 1984 his team was runner-up. He also coached Karen Socha as an individual, and she went on to win four straight girls individual state championships. All of these accomplishments came while his teams played played in Class AAA with a school enrollment which would have allowed GHS to play in Class AA.
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Coach was suddenly removed from his position in a surprise move by the school system in 2000 and commented on the highlights of his career, from the Greenville Sun, “Hawkes Is Out as GHS Coach,” May 2, 2000:
Asked to reflect back on some of the high moments of his coaching career, Hawkes said, “You always remember the good times that winning brings but I’ve been fortunate. We’ve had good players that worked hard but sometimes the competition in the area was very strong.
“I’m always reluctant to name players because invariably you leave someone off that played a big role.
“One thing that comes to mind immediately about the season we just completed – seven of the 12 players on the team, I had the pleasure of coaching their fathers when they were in high school. That was very special to me.”
He went on to say the l969-70 team will always hold a very special place, not for what they accomplished but for what they were not allowed to accomplish when the TSSAA ruled them ineligible for tournament play because of an altercation toward the end of a game against Science Hill of Johnson City. They posted a 22-5 record in Hawkes second season as coach.
“The 1973-74 team (26-8) will always be special. They won the school’s first regional tournament and had to beat Dobyns-Bennett (semifinals) and Science Hill (finals) in back-to-back games to do it and that’s never an easy task.”
Continuing he said, “The l980-81 (24-11) team finished strong—won the district tournament and finished runnerup in the region.
“Then there’s the l986-87 (34-3) team. We played only six, maybe seven, players most of the time but everyone understood their roles and their record proves that,” he said.
The l986-87 team won district, regional and sub-state titles and advanced to the semifinal round of the state.
“I want the kids to know that have played for me throughout the years that I genuinely appreciated their efforts,” he said in closing.