By Patrick Gotimer
Sterling (Dec. 22, 2014) – Looking up as the final buzzer sounded on Dec. 10, the scoreboard read Panthers 62, Handley Judges 51. But to Potomac Falls High School boys varsity basketball head coach Jeff Hawes, it meant so much more.
It meant win No. 300.
After opening the Panthers’ program in 1997, Hawes – the only coach in Potomac Falls’ history – has compiled a record of 302-109 including VHSL AA state championships in 2010 and 2011. During the 2010-2011 season, Hawes’ Panthers won the eighth most games (30) in a single season in VHSL history.
Hawes makes winning look effortless on paper, but the man is fiery on the sideline and often works up more of a sweat than his players do.
A player himself in high school, Hawes was given the opportunity to continue his playing career at Bridgewater College before the coach who recruited him resigned and the new coach cut Hawes’ entire recruiting class. This fueled Hawes and increased his passion for the game before he took up a junior varsity head coaching position at his alma mater Broad Run High School where he coached for ten years before turning in his maroon-and-gold wardrobe in for his new purple-and-black ensemble.
Hawes – who graduated from Broad Run in 1984 – sat down with LoCoSports journalist Patrick Gotimer to give us the scoop: inside the huddle.
Patrick Gotimer: First off, congratulations on getting your 300th career coaching win. How did it feel getting number 300 under your belt?
Jeff Hawes: I’m a driven, competitive person. I’ve had a lot of people, a lot of great people, a lot of great players, a lot of great coaches, a great community that helped me get there, but from a personal standpoint it’s exciting. I’ve said that my goal is to get to 500 the Good Lord willing and to check off 300 was pretty cool.
Gotimer: Monumental milestones can sometimes change the morale on the court and in the locker room. How do you think your big win is going to affect the rest of the season?
Hawes: I had a lot of kids that had a great off season. It’s only the second time I’ve ever kept 16 kids and only two of them are seniors. We’re starting two sophomores, starting two juniors, who didn’t play a ton last year. Just about every kid off the bench didn’t play much last year, so it’s a pretty fresh squad other than Wanya [Allen].
We’re getting a little bit better every day. We’ve won six out of our last seven. Our goal was to be 6 and 3 at Christmas and we’re 6 and 3 now. We won on Friday night, and now, we get a little break over Christmas. We can come back and play some good hard, back to basics, fundamental practice and get ready for conference play: our conference is going to be tough.
Gotimer: Speaking of Allen, you have had two incredibly talented big men come through your program over the last decade including Wanya and 2012 graduate Greg Graves. But with such a young team, what are you guys doing this year in order to get back to title contention?
Hawes: We’re just trying to grow. Our defense has got to get a whole lot better. We’re playing it in stretches but not the way we it’s traditionally always been. It’s a catalyst for us what we do offensively. We have a lot of kids that can score so if we get to playing defensively the way we want, start moving the ball around, get a boundary kid and not turn the ball over as much our goal is to preach February. We want to be as good as we can be by February and if all goes as planned, we plan to be hard to beat come then.
Gotimer: So what do you think your chances are of getting deep into February?
Hawes: I just watched Broad Run play, and they played hard as always. Stone Bridge is very talented, Briar Woods is playing real well, Tuscarora does a lot of good things and Freedom’s 3-2, and they didn’t win but a game last year. It’s going to be very interesting what happens when it all starts shaking out. It’s going to be real interesting. We’re right in the mix, but it’s going to take a lot of work.
Gotimer: I know it’s always been your dream to coach basketball. What advice would you have for student-athletes and even just students in general that are trying to follow their dreams?
Hawes: It takes a lot of dedication and commitment and organization and things aren’t always going to go the way you planned. You have to persevere, keep pushing, keep chasing and good things will happen.
We have a sign in our locker room, it says “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” It hasn’t always been roses for me, and I never stopped pushing. You just have to understand that and be flexible and grind when the problems are tough. I pride myself on working even harder because they’re bound to go bad again.
Patrick Gotimer is a graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.