ICARD — If there was ever an athlete that never backed down from competition, it was East Burke senior Ariana Hawkins, whether she as standing tall at 5 feet, 6 inches to draw charges on the basketball hardwood or protect the soccer goal.
Her prowess and determination for both Lady Cavaliers teams made Hawkins the winner of the Ray Childers award as EB’s 2018-19 female co-athlete of the year.
“Ari made a difference in many ways,” said first-year Lady Cavs soccer coach Sabrina Powell. “She was a leader and role model for our team, and that’s the biggest difference you can make on a team.”
Hawkins recorded 159 saves in her senior season to top her own personal best of 134 in 2017, and recorded 12 career shutouts in goal, both unofficial school records.
“She gave it her all every game and played literally every minute in every game once we got her back from basketball,” Powell added. “Every girl on our team knew they could depend on her and. When in doubt, we have Ari in the goal so we will be just fine.”
Her sophomore season in goal saw Hawkins matchup against some mighty 3A competition in South Iredell and Kings Mountain, capturing more than 10 saves both times. She later recorded 12 saves in a season-ending win over county rival Freedom and 14 in a 2A state playoff matchup vs. Parkwood that season.
“Every game just took a lot of focus,” said Hawkins. “Protecting an 8x13 goal is harder than it looks.”
Hawkins went on to have 10 more games (including eight as a senior) with at least 10 saves, including her last game with county rival Draughn, when she recorded 12.
On the hardwood, Hawkins scored in double figures in 45 career games, 23 in her senior season alone with a career-high of 22 points in a home win over R-S Central last December.
Hawkins also scored the go-ahead basket to rescue the Lady Cavs from an upset road loss at Bunker Hill this season.
She finished her last season by gaining the record for most career charges drawn while averaging 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists, earning both her second all-conference and all-county honor.
“Her on-court leadership has proven to produce great teams (at East Burke),” said Lady Cavaliers coach Crystal Bartlett. “She had what it takes to win a game.”
That success included a few school records including most wins in a season twice (27; set in both 2016-17 and 2017-18).
“It just took a lot of things to get to where we are,” said Hawkins. “My best memory (in basketball) is just getting to finish out my high school career with my best friend (Brooke Arney).”
Hawkins was also on the girls golf team for three seasons, receiving All-Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference honorable mention honors last fall by scoring under 60 in three matches including a nine-hole round of 54 at Hampton Heights.
Hawkins will be continuing her basketball career at Newberry College, studying sports science in hopes of becoming a physical therapist.
Jason Baker can be reached at email@example.com.