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R.J. Hawthorne photo
R.J. Hawthorne photo
R.J. Hawthorne
Hometown: Union, MS
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Championship football, basketball, baseball, and track Coach R. J. “Hawk” Hawthorne led top level athletic programs at Simmons High at Hollandale for 32 years. Coach Hawthorne was born in Union and lettered in football, basketball, and track at Lanier High in Jackson. A captain of the football team and honor roll student, Hawk was a captain and four-year letterman in football and lettered one year in track at Tougaloo College. Coach Hawthorne served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956 where he was a radar operator, fire marshal, and coach/athletic noncommissioned officer. Hawk began his 32-years in the coaching profession in 1960 and spent his entire career at Simmons High in Hollandale. At Simmons, Coach Hawthorne led the football, girls’ basketball and girls track programs and served as the school’s athletic director. Upon his arrival, Hawk helped establish a co-ed physical education department and added track and field for boys and girls. Three years later, his football teams found success and in 1970, a new athletic field house was added to the school. In 1987, he established cross country programs. On top of all of those athletic administrative accomplishments, Coach Hawthorne was also the transportation supervisor for the Hollandale school system. As a coach, Hawk guided his Simmons football teams to 277 wins with 110 losses and 13 ties for a 61% winning percentage. His gridiron squads captured the conference title five times and claimed a district title. He briefly coached boys’ basketball and led those teams to a break even 12-12 record. Coach Hawthorne’s girls’ basketball teams were outstanding and had 115 wins with only 31 losses for a 79% winning mark out of 146 games played. His lady hoopsters claimed three conference zone titles, four MSHS zone crowns, and the 1977 conference championship and North region. In boys track, Hawk’s squads were 18-1 in meets between 1962 and 1992 and won a conference title. His girls track teams won 76 meets with 3 conference championships, one MSHS zone crown, and three North State titles from 1960 to 1992. On the diamond Coach Hawthorne’s baseball teams won 35 games and lost only 15 with a conference championship between 1961 and 1965. Hawk’s coaching accolades piled up through the years as he was named football coach of the year on 5 occasions as recognized by the Delta Athletic Conference and the North Central Athletic Conference. He was named MAC track coach of the year two times in 1976 and 1984 and he was two-time National Girls Track Coach of the Year for Region 5 as selected by the NHSACA in 1977 and 1985. Hawk served as an All-star football coach in the 1981 Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic. He was a two-time District Star Teacher in 1980 and 1986. Coach Hawthorne has a gold award for football and a silver award for basketball as presented by Franklin Life Insurance Company. He served the MAC as a member of the Board of Directors and a member of the Executive Committee from 1984 through 1988. He helped found the North Central Athletic Conference and a Delta Athletic Official member serving as a track meet director on several occasions. Off the field, Hawk was a valued member of the Presbyterian Church, Omega Psi Phi, the Elks, a 32nd degree Mason-Scottish Rite, past president of the C. B. Radio Club, past director of the Hollandale Recreation Center, and a bus driver instructor for the state department of education. Hawk received a high distinction in 1976 when the booster club at Hollandale named the football field in his honor as the R. J. Hawthorne Football Field.