While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a global issue, it’s been a record-setting year for the Hornets’ athletic program.
Just prior to the shutdown in March, the Hawthorne girls basketball team, coached by current football coach Cornelius Ingram, won its first state title in school history the last week of February. A week later, the boys won their first state basketball title since 1987.
Now, less than a year later, the Hawthorne football team will play for its first state title in school history.
The small town of Hawthorne has really embraced what has been happening in 2020.
“I’m a proud Hawthorne alum,” said Hawthorne mayor Matt Surrency. “We are one team, one family, and one community, truly all in.”
There are family ties and strong bonds, with players on the girls basketball team dating players on the football team. In fact, the girls are the water girls for the football team and serve as cheerleaders for the players.
They all truly want each other to succeed.
“I’m just happy for a lot of these kids because some of them might come from hard backgrounds, some of them might come from single parent homes,” said head coach Cornelius Ingram, who is the younger brother of boys basketball coach Greg Bowie, who is the offensive coordinator for the football team. “We just have that kind of family atmosphere here at Hawthorne, not only with our athletics but just as a whole, as an entire school.”
Defensive coordinator Dustin Adkins, Ingram, and Offensive/Defensive line coach Raymond Cue were teammates at Hawthorne. Bowie and defensive back coach Charles Hawkins were teammates at Hawthorne.
This family bond helps the players buy in.
“My coaching staff is made up of probably 75% Hawthorne alums so just knowing these kids, knowing what they go through, getting on their level, getting them to trust us, and they understand that we love them on and off the field,” Ingram said.
They also welcomed with open arms former Eastside football coach Cedderick Daniels, who is the co-defensive coordinator.
“It’s been a rough year,” he said. “I could have quit. It was the perfect opportunity for me. They let me be me.”
Ingram said that he tries to help his team “with whatever they have going on.” If a player invites him to a school function or a church event, he’s there.
“I tell people all the time that the future is extremely bright and we’re just beginning great things,” added Ingram.
This for a school that was close to being shut down a few years ago because they were a letter “D” grade school in the classroom.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to these kids, to my coaching staff, our fanbase,” Ingram said. “The kids did everything necessary to improve academics, test scores, and we ended being maybe a ‘B’ school after a lot of hard work.”
They have been through a lot. They don’t take no for an answer.
“That’s the kind of kids I coach every single day and I always tell people I have a dream job,” said Ingram.
They’ve been determined, overcome obstacles in the classroom, and are now seeking a third state title in the same calendar year.
“It’s just a fun time to be a Hornet whether it’s on the playing field, in the classroom, or even in the community,” Ingram said. “It’s definitely a special time for us right now.”
Family is always special.
State Championship on I am Country 106.9 FM
"Brought to you by SunState Federal Credit Union, giving youth the power to shine. Sunstate FCU, federally insured by the NCUA."