Southport grad Christopher Hawkins leads Crispus Attucks to victory at state basketball championship
When Southport alumnus Christopher Hawkins took the job as varsity boys head basketball coach with Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet School on the Eastside of Indianapolis, he had dreams of someday making it to the state championships.
The last time the school won state was 1959.
“When I got the job, I felt if we could get to that high mountain top, we would need players like Oscar Robertson,” Hawkins said. Roberston was a Crispus Attucks point guard who helped the school earn state championships in 1955 and again, undefeated, in ‘56. “He’s a legend, a Hall of Famer. He’s the person that understood where people needed to be, made people better, had great leadership skills.”
Hawkins’ players proved that they had those skills. On March 25, they took home the Class 3A state championship with a 73-71 score against Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Ind. The legendary Robertson not only came in before the game to give a pep talk, but afterwards to congratulate the champions.
“It was a real cool moment,” Hawkins said. “It’s crazy. I didn’t think we would do it. I thought next year would be the year. We won 15 straight games. We lost the city finals to Manual. After we lost the last-second shot that game, the kids understood what we needed to do. We came together as a unit, as a family. We actually won the state championship. It was surreal.”
Growing up in Indianapolis, Hawkins attended Clinton Young Elementary and then Southport Middle School where he played football and basketball. His freshman year, under coach Bill Springer, he decided to concentrate on basketball only. The team won the sectionals in 2000. It lost the sectional match in 2001. As a guard, Hawkins said he was always trying to figure out the next move, the next pass or the next play. That mindset is what led him to eventually becoming a coach.
Hawkins graduated from Southport in 2001. He earned a degree from Indiana University in general studies with a concentration on social and behavioral sciences and a minor in history. He began coaching with Southport in 2004 and continued through 2012.
He coached at Shortridge Magnet High School from 2012 to 2014, then moved to Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School from 2014 to 2016. This was his first year teaching special education and as head basketball coach at Crispus Attucks.
“I knew the kids,” he said. “I coached against them a couple of times when I was at Brebeuf. I felt the system I could bring in would mesh well with their talents. I felt it was the place I could make a difference in.”
That system included an increased concentration on defense and communication. There were also lessons he brought back from his time playing and coaching at Southport.
“Being a student athlete was the biggest thing the coaches stressed when I was there,” he said. “I stressed it at Attucks. If you take care of things off the court and in the classroom, it makes it easier to play.”
If he ever needs guidance, he said he knows the door is always open at Southport. With Southport having made it to semi-state last year, Hawkins spoke with coach Kyle Simpson about strategy. As a show of support, not only did his former coach Springer attend the semi-state and state championship games, so did many other people from his Southport past.
“I just really want to say I appreciate the support from the Southport community,” he said. “If I wasn’t able to respond to a message, I got it. I appreciate the support throughout the whole tournament. I’m a cardinal, through and through.”
With the state championship win under his belt, Hawkins said he’s looking to help his students finish out the year, then will prepare to defend the title in 2018.