Abby Hawkes

By Kathryn Menue


BELVIDERE – After a jam-packed spring of Belvidere North athletes signing their intent to attend various colleges and universities around the country to continue their athletic and academic careers, Belvidere North held their last athletic signing on Tuesday, May 10.

Before May 10’s signing, Belvidere North bid farewell to a football player and baseball player and numerous runners, but the athletic signing season ended with an All-State swimmer.

Abby Hawkes signed her letter of intent to be a swimmer for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks.

“North Carolina is a beautiful state. I just knew that I wanted to be near the ocean,” Hawkes said about her decision to go to North Carolina. She said that she has only lived in Illinois and is excited at the idea of a “new state and new school.”

She did say her decision to go to UNC-Wilmington was based on how inviting the people were at the school.

“Ultimately, it was how welcomed I felt by the team.”

At the university, Hawkes will pursue a degree in psychology with the hopes of becoming a military psychologist.

“It’ll just be nice to experience new things,” Hawkes said of her future at the university level. “I’m really excited to see what friendships develop and what academic and athletic opportunities develop.”

Hawkes future was paved from her hard work in and out of the classroom.

“I don’t think we’d be here for her signing of University of North Carolina-Wilmington if it weren’t for her dedication in the classroom,” Athletic Director Jody Flynn said.

Hawkes is a member of the Science National Honor Society, the National Honor Society, was a Scholar Athlete, and was on the Honor Roll.

Hawkes athletic achievements are just as impressive as her academic performance.

Hawkes has been the Athlete of the Week for WREX, has been All Conference all four years of high school, was voted the Most Outstanding Swimmer at a meet at Harlem High School, was Conference MVP her senior year, and was an All-State swimmer her junior year.

“She will forever live in our hallways at Belvidere North,” Flynn said, because every All-State athlete has a plaque on the wall at Belvidere North. Hawkes has joined that legacy.

It all started when she began swimming in 6th grade, but her coaches know part of her success is due to her contagiously, positive attitude.

“Abby will always, always, always have a smile on her face,” Flynn said. “What’s more important to me is she is a great person.”

Coach Torbert shared her admiration for Hawkes as well.

She said that Hawkes always had a smile on her face, but faltered her junior year, doubting swimming was her future. The next swim season, Hawkes found her joy again and went back to being an overachiever in the pool and an exceptional teammate.

“You are truly an amazing athlete, an amazing student, and one of the nicest people,” Coach Torbert said. “I’m just honored I’ve gotten to be in this little part of your life.”

Hawkes is also a part of the local Aquatic Swim Club led by Coach McGuire, who spoke of Hawkes passion for the sport and sportsmanship to her teammates and other competing athletes.

“Abby is a big part of the swimming community,” Coach McGuire said, which was evident from the over 40 attendants in the BNHS Forum Room all there to support Hawkes. “Our swimming community is better because Abby is involved. Thank you, Abby, for making all of us better.”

Coach Steincamp reiterated the common consensus of the room.

“You are truly one of a kind and I’m really going to miss you next year,” Coach Steincamp said.

Hawkes was highly appreciative of the wonderful speeches from her coaches, family, and friends.

“It’s really great to know I’ve made an impact on my community and friends,” Hawkes said. “I wouldn’t be here without all my family and friends, and I’m so thankful for that. I’ve made the most amazing memories.”

Hawkes then began to thank her coaches for working with her, her friends for supporting her, and her family for the love they’ve given her. She gave a special tribute to her parents as well.

“You guys are seriously awesome,” Hawkes said to her mother and father sitting beside her. “Thank you for teaching me the world is mine.”

With a roar of applause from the audience, Hawkes signed her letter of intent to be a Seahawk swimmer at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Director Flynn perfectly summed up the evening in one sentence.

“Our loss is University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s gain.”


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