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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Final four a Hawkins family affair

Thursday, March 25, 2010

He thought he had retired.

Really, he did.

After coaching the Thayer Bobcats basketball team for over two decades, Cliff Hawkins was ready to take a break from the grind of the endless nights and long hours involved with hoops, focusing on his role as golf coach and athletic director at Thayer High School.

Hawkins stepped down after his son Layne, a standout basketball player and golfer, graduated from Thayer.

But then came a simple request.

One that Cliff Hawkins could not refuse.

"My girl (Lacey) said I had to get back in it (coaching) -- she wanted me to coach her," Hawkins said. "I coached boys for 22 years and retired -- or thought I had retired. So I did (get back into coaching) and this is real special. It's something I won't forget and she won't either."

Hawkins came out of his brief basketball retirement to join the staff of long-time Lady Bobcat Head Coach Steve Atkisson, before taking over as head coach of the girls' squad last year after Atkisson retired.

And while it must no doubt be the thrill of a lifetime to even get the opportunity to coach your children at the high school level, what Hawkins and his two kids have experienced has to be off-the-charts cool.

In 2003, Coach Hawkins guided the Bobcats, a team with a freshman by the name of Layne Hawkins on the roster, to a Final Four appearance at Hearnes Center in Columbia, a trip that resulted in a third-place finish for Thayer.

Then this year, Hawkins took the Lady Bobcats, a team with a junior by the name of Lacey Hawkins on the roster, to the state championship game in a building that sits less than a quarter-mile from Hearnes, the sparkling Mizzou Arena.

Two trips to the final four, with three Hawkins involved.

"It's awesome. It's really special just to get to come here, but to take both your kids is ... I mean, words can't describe it," Cliff Hawkins said after his Lady Cats earned second place in Class 2. " I'm really close to both my kids and this is just so special. It's been a blast. My boy went to the final eight in three out of four years and to the final four once, and now this -- so it's been a real fun run."

And although no one can predict the future, chances are when you see one Hawkins in the near future, you'll probably see two.

"This year has been a great run. I've been in it a long time, 27 years. I keep telling them I'm getting old and going to retire and hang it up, but my little girl's got one more year, so I don't know what I'm going to do on that," the coach said.

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