Thursday, July 29, 2010
Hawkins, Bowie try to put their own stamp on SHS basketball
HOLLANDALE — It’s hard to think of the Chicago Bulls without mentioning Michael Jordan.
Bring up the San Francisco 49ers and Jerry Rice automatically comes to mind.
And although Brett Favre has played for two other teams since leaving Green Bay, he’ll always be remembered as a Green Bay Packer.
And the same goes for Simmons High School basketball and longtime coach George Willis. It’s hard to mention one without mentioning the other.
However, in June after over 35 years of coaching both boys and girls basketball at Simmons, Willis called it a career, finishing as one of the state’s winningest coaches in history.
Now two former basketball standouts — in their own rights — have been passed the torch to lead the Blue Devils into a new era.
Festus Hawkins, who has played and coached in numerous professional, collegiate and prep ranks, will take over the boys progam, while Jessica Bowie, a former Millsaps standout, will lead the girls team.
Hawkins said he knows he’s replacing a legend, and it’ll be a challenge.
“There’s no blueprint for that,” said the former Harlem Globetrotter, who will be teaching World History and Mississippi Studies at Simmons.
The two new coaches, who came to Hollandale via the Mississippi Teachers Corp, said they will depend on each other to get the job done.
“We compliment each other well,” said Bowie, who recorded two triple doubles while at Millsaps.
Both coaches agreed that academics will be first priority.
“If you go to school, you should at least get a C, and if you put a little effort in it, you should get a B,” said Hawkins. “Education is your ticket out of any bad situation.
“It’s also a way to see the rest of the world," he added. “I can remember playing for the Globetrotters and being in three different states for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate breakfast in California, had lunch in (the state of) Washington and drove to Portland, Ore. for dinner.”
Added Bowie: “Education is money. That's something no one can take from you.”
Bowie, who said she had many trials and tribulations while growing up in Texas, said she wants what's best for the students.
“When my mom walked out on me (and my siblings), 10 people offered for me to come stay with them,” she recalled.
“I just want the students to take pride in their (basketball) programs, while doing better for themselves.”
The 6-foot-11 Hawkins, who once played for former NBA superstar Daryl Dawkins, said the Simmons High can look forward to seeing him around for years to come.
“I plan on being here as long as they will take me,” he said. “I have a 10-year plan to see how many kids I can get to college. I want them to say I graduated 9 out of 10 kids.”