May 9, 2001

Hawkins Becoming a Leader for Broncos

By Jennifer Pfluke
womenssoccer.com Editor

May 9, 2001

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - While most of her classmates at Santa Clara were agonizing over lectures, papers, and research projects, junior midfielder Devvyn Hawkins got a chance to experience an entirely different learning environment.

In March the Olympia, Wash., native participated in the Algarve Cup, her first international tournament. While that in itself was exciting, the fact that it was with the full national team was even more exhilarating.

"When they announce your name and you're wearing the (U.S.) uniform, it's just awesome," said Hawkins, who graduated Capital High School a four-time MVP. "I was representing the United States. It really didn't hit me that I was playing with the full team until after the trip."

In addition to the suitcase full of souvenirs she carried back to San Jose, she returned with a new level of confidence in her game.

"Just knowing that I have played at the highest level possible created a lot of confidence," she said. "I mean, I thought we played so awesomely. We may have let down, but we just need to build from there and learn that we need to stay 90 minutes mentally fit and just get tougher and improve our speed of play."

The next challenge Hawkins, who ended her freshman season as the team's second-highest scorer, is facing concerns the upcoming 2001 season. The Broncos struggled with an injury-afflicted roster last year, but she says her teammates are on the road to recovery.

"Veronica (Zepeda) is playing and Aly (Wagner) has been running," she explained. "It's just nagging injuries. Danielle (Slaton) is still out with her knee. I'm not sure when she'll be back, but everyone should be healthy by next season."

It'll be just in time, too, as the Broncos are hungrily eyeing a national title. Santa Clara advanced to the Final Four four consecutive times prior to 2000 and has yet to make it to the championship.

Hawkins will team up with Chevrolet's Youth Player of the Year and fellow All-American Aly Wagner to form one of the premier midfields in the country. Head coach Jerry Smith is counting on her leadership among other things to propel his team in the fall.

"Devvyn is evolving into a tremendous leader for us," Smith said. "We're asking her to assume different roles on the team. We had a lot of injuries to key players, and she was kind of forced only in her sophomore year to take on a leadership role for us.

"She's a tremendous scoring threat going forward. As a player, her strengths are her work rate, her toughness, her quickness, and her ability to win balls in the air."

She finished last season with two goals and three assists, and though she struggled a bit, Smith regards those struggles as positive.

"She may have struggled with parts of this year, but as I tell our seniors every year at our banquet, the fact that it's hard and you struggle at times is part of the deal," he said. "It's that struggle that allows you to look at yourself and test yourself and determine what your character is. Without that kind of challenge in front you that causes you to waver on that confidence and security line, you don't ever really get a chance to grow as much as you otherwise would. But Devvyn is definitely growing. She's becoming more of a complete player."

Hawkins will return in the fall for her junior season and is already looking past graduation towards a possible professional soccer career, something she feels will take women's soccer in America to an even higher level than exists currently.

"The WUSA is such an opportunity for people who were just going to have to quit playing soccer after school," she said. "It's so hard to do just quit after you've played your whole life--you can't just give it up.

"I think it's going to make the U.S. better and better and create a bigger pool for the national team to pick from. Since the other teams of the world are getting better, (the WUSA) will help us keep raising the level, and I want to be a part of that."

(c) womenssoccer.com 2001