Sept. 26, 2002
By Josh Griffin
The Satna Clara
It often requires a strong-willed and selfless player to fill a role on a team that limits his or her individual prowess for the sake of that team. Count Santa Clara senior midfielder Devvyn Hawkins among the strong-willed and selfless.
After arriving at Santa Clara in 1999 as a highly touted recruit out of Capital High School in Olympia, Wash., Hawkins immediately found herself in the limelight as a starting freshman midfielder on one of the best women's soccer teams in NCAA history. She responded with nine goals and ten assists while starting 20 games for the NCAA semifinalists, garnering first team All-West Coast Conference accolades.
After the 1999 season, Hawkins took on more defensive responsibilities by replacing 2000 Olympian and WUSA star Nikki Serlenga at the holding midfield position. For the soccer-inclined, her holding midfield position is similar to a stopper, but she has the freedom to travel anywhere on the field. For soccer civilians, Hawkins supports the defensive backline, while supporting the offensive midfield on the attack, playing balls into the offense and switching fields when necessary. As a result her offensive numbers fell off in 2000, notching only two goals and three assists, while being recognized as honorable mention All-WCC.
"Devvyn plays a position far from the goal, and any player that plays there will struggle to gain recognition," said head coach Jerry Smith. "But while some people miss her level of play, she is getting recognition where it really matters. For instance, she was a starter on the United States U-21 National team, and is currently in the pool for the full U.S. National team."
Then, just as her junior year had kicked off and her teammates prepared for what would eventually be their first national championship season, Hawkins' father became ill before passing away.
"My dad was always my biggest fan as a soccer player, so I knew I couldn't give up my soccer goals," recalls Hawkins.
She returned to practice after missing matches against California, Dayton, Southern Methodist and San Diego State.
"I have always known where I want to go in soccer, so I felt it was a good idea to get back," says Hawkins. "It was stressful at times with school, and talking with my mom a lot. I still don't know if it was the right decision to come back so soon."
Hawkins came through on the field, scoring four goals along with two assists and providing a strong midfield presence. Beyond the box score, she was an essential member of the 2001 National Champions.
"As a defender, we are often overlooked," said sophomore defender Jessica Ballweg. "But Devvyn creates so much, and she wins so many balls. She may not produce as many goals and assists, but she gets things started."
Perhaps as important as her ability on the field is her leadership skills that are universally lauded by her coaches and teammates.
"She is such a strong person, considering everything that happened," Ballweg says. "She is so unselfish, and always there for us. She'd listen to all of our little problems even when she was going through so much more than us."
Smith was also quick to point out Hawkins' leadership ability.
"Devvyn is an awesome leader, and a very positive personality," he says. "We missed her a lot last season when she was away. She is not only a hard worker who is often unrecognized by fans, but just an upbeat person in all situations."
As for right now, Hawkins is concerned less with possible national team call-ups - she missed one recent national team call-up due to a sprained ankle - and more focused on her last year at Santa Clara. She laughs when asked if she ever feels unappreciated.
"Right now, I am focusing on Santa Clara soccer and repeating as national champions," says Hawkins. "I don't know when I'll be called up to the national team again, but if I focus at this level, my time will come again."