July 18, 2001

Defense Never Rests for Hawkins

July 18, 2001

by Gail Wood
The Olympian

Devvyn Hawkins was furious. Jerry Smith, her soccer coach at Santa Clara University, called her into his office a year ago and shared some troubling news. He wanted her to switch positions, moving her from a scorer to a defender.

"I couldn't believe it," says Hawkins, a three-time league MVP while at Capital High School and a junior-to-be this fall at Santa Clara. "I was pretty upset when he told me. He moved me from a position I loved to play."

It wasn't like she was a bust at putting shots into the net.

Hawkins was coming off a freshman season where she had scored nine goals and added 10 assists, earning her first-team All-West Coast Conference honors. She was the second-highest scorer on a team that finished 23-1.

Giving up the scorer's role wasn't easy. But now 12 months into the experiment, Hawkins gives the position change a double thumbs up. She has redefined her game.

"It was a whole different mindset," Hawkins says. "It's like being the quarterback. You make all of the calls. I love it."

Hawkins is obviously making all the right calls.

After joining the Seattle Sounders Select Women for a game last week, Hawkins left Tuesday for a three-day camp in Rhode Island in preparation for the women's Under-21 Nordic Cup Championships in Norway. It is the top competition in the world for that age group.

In May, she played on the U.S. U-21 national team in Mexico, where the Americans beat the full Mexican women's national team twice.

In March, Hawkins was named to the full U.S. national team for a tournament in Portugal, where she started at midfield in her international debut. She started four of five games as the team placed sixth after a loss to Norway.

Playing on the full national team was a dream come true.

"I was pinching myself as I ran out on the field with the U.S. uniform on," she says. "It was an awesome experience."

A position opened for Hawkins on the full U.S. national team when several players were excused for pro tryouts. She's hoping to make the team permanently.

"That's my dream," Hawkins says.

Still, last fall wasn't the easiest college season for Hawkins.

Santa Clara, which had lost several national-caliber players to graduation, slipped to 16-7-1 but still made the NCAA playoffs.

As Hawkins learned a new position, her numbers dropped. She finished with two goals and three assists, but still earned honorable mention All-WCC.

"It was extremely frustrating at times," Hawkins said. "Coach would be yelling at me to do something and I'd say, 'Hey, I've never done this before.' It was a real learning experience."

The biggest challenge was taking on a leadership role. Hawkins was no longer concerned only about scoring.

"Devvyn is evolving into a tremendous leader for us," Smith said. "We're asking her to assume different roles on the team. We had a lot of injuries to key players and she was kind of forced only in her sophomore year to take on a leadership role."

Smith looked to Hawkins to fill at the defensive midfield position with the graduation of Niki Serlanga, an all-conference player who is now on the full U.S. national team.

Smith is confident Hawkins can fill those shoes.

"Her strengths are her work rate, her toughness, her quickness and her ability to win balls in the air," Smith said. "She may have struggled, but Devvyn is definitely growing. She's becoming more of a complete player."

Seattle Sounder Select Women coach Chance Fry agrees, although Hawkins has played only one game with his team so far.

"Anytime you can add a national team pool player to your squad it's exciting," Fry said. "She is an excellent young player."

Gail Wood covers sports for The Olympian. He can be reached at 754-5432.

The Hawkins File

-Who: Devvyn Hawkins.

-What: A 5-foot-7 midfielder who will be a junior this fall at Santa Clara University.

-Hometown: Graduate of Capital High School in Olympia.

-Notable: Currently attending U.S. Under-21 national camp in Colorado. Also has scored one goal in four appearances with the U.S. National team and played for the Seattle Sounders Select Women's team.