Mount Joy, Pa. (WHTM) – Donegal High School athletic director Frank Hawkins was honored as the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) District Three Athletic Director of the Year on Oct. 24.
“Being an AD here is my ministry,” said Hawkins. “I’m able to see young people grow and achieve just through athletics. I’m blessed to be able to do that.”
Faith, family, and ministry are the three priorities in Hawkins’ life and they have driven not only his personal life but also his nine-year athletic director career.
Hawkins applied for his first AD position in 2015 with West York High School on a whim after his wife encouraged him to. He had no prior experience with being an AD, but he had been working with at-risk kids at a youth center for 16 years and was coaching the junior high boys basketball team. Hawkins had strong connections with the children and young adults he was working with and a lot of them from the youth center attended West York so he felt the job would be a good fit.
“I ended up applying and [emailing] my principal at that time,” Hawkins said. “I said, ‘I don’t have any experience but I have a passion for young people and I have a passion for athletics'”.
Hawkins got the job and spent four years at West York before moving to Donegal in July of 2020.
Hawkins spends his days working with the student-athletes, making sure everything is ready for games and ensuring Donegal is abiding by the PIAA bylaws and constitution along with the rules set forth by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS).
“We are the ones that have to ensure that we as a district in our programs are following those guidelines set forth,” Hawkins said. “We ensure the safety and security of all of our athletic events and students, faculty, and staff’s [safety] during that event. [Making sure] it goes off without a hitch. We’re doing everything that it takes behind the scenes.”
Home football game days are the busiest days of the year for Hawkins.
Hawkins begins preparing for a 7 p.m. kickoff at noon. He prepares the field, ensures all equipment is working properly, sets up the parking lot, makes sure the booster club has everything it needs, checks on concessions, ticket collectors, and security, and makes preparations for the EMS crew that will be on site. Hawkins meets with officials at 5 p.m. and then makes certain the first kick is at exactly 7 o’clock.
“There’s a detailed checklist that we go down and make sure we don’t miss anything,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins noted that it is a lot of work, but that it’s made easier because of the team he is surrounded by at Donegal.
“I’m blessed to have a wonderful team,” Hawkins said. “I certainly couldn’t do this job without our training staff, our principals, our administrative team; here at Donegal, our administrative team works the games. So I am very heavily supported.”
Hawkins received another award earlier this year when he was named the Lancaster-Lebanon Athletic Director of the Year. He says it is nice to be recognized for his work, but what really he really values is the connections he makes with the student-athletes.
“Being named the AD of the year, yes it’s great, but I can do without the title as long as [I] make connections and see our young people succeed,” Hawkins said. “But I do appreciate it; it is nice to be recognized. . . because a lot of what we do is a thankless job. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes.”
Hawkins says watching students, especially those who were not on track to graduate but who through athletics learned the discipline to dedicate themselves to their studies, walk across the stage at their graduation is one of the most rewarding parts of his job.
Hawkins tries to instill in all of his students the importance of knowing what they stand for. He wants them to have something they are passionate about and know what they value as they enter into the next phase of life after high school.
“Certainly [I] want our students to be successful, but ultimately [I] want them to have a firm foundation of who they are, what they stand for,” Hawkins said. “I want them to exceed more than what I’ve done in my life. I want that for my own kids as well, not only the 3,000 students we have here at Donegal.”
Away from work, Hawkins is a huge family man. He has three children ages 23-27 with two that live at home with him while finishing their studies at Elizabethtown College. Hawkins passed down his love of athletics to them.
Hawkins’ oldest swam and played soccer and both of his younger children competed in track and field and basketball.
“Ultimately I want to enjoy my family and spend some time with them,” Hawkins said. “This job does take away from that.”
On his own, Hawkins spends his time golfing. He was an official for basketball with the PIAA for 10 years, but he recently stepped away from that position.
This is the second time in his career Hawkins was awarded an Athletic Director of the Year award from his league. He was named the 2019-20 York-Adams Athletic Director of the Year as well.
Hawkins says his success is in part due to the role models that mentored him. He hopes to do the same for the younger ADs he encounters.
“We’re not going to be around forever, so [I’m] utilizing [my] expertise and [my] knowledge to pass that down to the next generation.”