THOMASVILLE — More than a decade after starring for East Davidson as a player, Keaton Hawks is returning to the diamond at the school as head coach.
Kim Warrick and Ryan McClamrock, co-athletic directors at East, announced the decision to bring Hawks in as the skipper last week after Dan Patton left his post following a seven-year tenure. The Golden Eagles have had two coaches in the last 38 years.
Following in the footsteps of his mentors Patton and Dan Tricarico, Hawks will seek to maintain a level of excellence that has spanned many years.
“Keaton Hawks is East Davidson,” Warrick said. “He played here, he graduated from here. … The main thing is Keaton loves baseball, and he loves our kids. It’s important to him that our baseball program remains successful. We knew that … he was the one to do this.”
After he graduated in 2010 from East, Hawks spent four years at Catawba, where he played. Following graduation from Catawba, Hawks took a position at South Davidson High School, taught at Brier Creek Elementary and Silver Valley Elementary before heading to Brown Middle School. He has also coached the American Legion team in Lexington.
Returning to the program he played for carries with it a number of motivating factors, not the least of which is seeing players he has coached in the past succeed.
“It’s home,” Hawks said. “I invested a lot of time and energy, coming back from college to work at the summer camp with Coach T and Coach Patton. Other than the freshman class that will be sophomores this year, I’ve had the opportunity to coach [the rest of the team] when I was at Brown.”
Hawks played for Tricarico, who accumulated more than 400 victories, won seven conference titles, went to the playoffs 17 times, was named conference coach of the year seven times and won a state championship in 1999. Hawks is hopeful the program sees a measure of that success with him at the helm, but said it is important for student athletes to understand the primary measure of success won’t be wins and losses.
“The groundwork for any program is laid throughout years,” Hawks said. “I think Coach T was here for 32 years. In the back of my mind, do I think about it, as a tradition? East has been a winning baseball program. I just want them to do all those little things so that they can be as successful as they can be.”
Despite the vaunted expectations he faced as a player, what he said he appreciated most was the work instilled by the coaches.
“I just want to make sure they’re doing it the right way, whether that’s on the field or in the class,” Hawks said. “I didn’t say a whole lot in high school or college when I played, just trying to do things the right way, lead by example. That’s what I expect out of those guys.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at email@example.com.