Bill Hawk successfully coached the Enumclaw High boys basketball team in the 1980s and ‘90s and for two years headed up the White River boys basketball program.
Now, the veteran hoop coach has put the finishing touches on his first season with the Muckleshoot Tribal School Kings.
The tribal school team finished its maiden voyage as a 1B independent team under the tutelage of Hawk and according to the ex-Hornet boss, it was a two-way learning experience.
He was hired as the boys basketball coach in early September by Tim Tubbs, the former athletic director at EHS and current A.D. at the K-12 Muckleshoot school. By late September he was on board, as two different teaching positions opened up in high school English and middle school physical education.
“I have learned a great deal about the Native American culture and in return the boys made their initial attempt at understanding organized sports,” Hawk said. “They learned that things like attendance, getting good grades and coming to practice were not optional, but mandatory if they wanted to be both a student and an athlete.”
Hawk said the differences between public school athletics and tribally-funded athletics are numerous and substantial, but most notably he was surprised at how the community really nurtured the team.
“If the kids feel accepted, that their needs are being taken care of and they have the unconditional support of the community, they aren’t as worried about the same things that state funded public school kids are and they can just play the game and have fun,” he said.
Hawk and his charges will officially be playing in the Sea-Tac 1B League next season.
In describing some of challenges he faced as coach of a first-year school, Hawk pointed out since the entire enrollment is 90 youngsters, just nine boys turned out for the team.
“In scrimmages it was sort of difficult to duplicate game situations because we had so few kids, but after awhile my fun-loving assistant began to suit up, which gave us enough bodies on the gym floor to at least imitate what our upcoming opponent’s offense and defense was going to look like,” Hawk said.
Hawk said it took his cagers a while to adjust to a formal setting with referees calling fouls, traveling and other violations, “but we ended up finishing the season with a winning regular season record (9-7) and were invited to the Tri-District 1B Regional Tournament at Mount Lake Terrace High School.
“I was really proud of these guys making a postseason appearance in their first year of playing together,” Hawk said. “We didn’t have a lot of height among our group, but some of these fellas were incredible shooters from outside.”
The Kings lost two of three games at regionals and were eliminated from having a chance to advance to state after dropping a loser-out game to Lopez Island 59-49.
“I think, all in all, the kids had a great time and were surprised at how the community rallied around them,” Hawk said. “For example, even when it became apparent that we weren’t going to beat Lopez Island, the fans were still cheering and urging the players on. It was nice to see the encouraged looks on the guys faces and I think we may have more players turning out next year as the current players tell their friends about how much fun they had.