Ex-Trojans coach to lead program at North Miami

Cliff Hawkins enjoys the challenge of building a boys basketball program, even from the ground up.

At North Miami, the former Center Grove coach now faces the formidable task of reversing the fortunes of the Warriors, who are a woeful 28-138 over the past seven seasons.

North Miami, a rural Class 2A school located 13 miles north of Peru, approved the hiring of Hawkins, 63, at its school board meeting in June.

Once the 2017-18 school year begins, his days will be split between teaching physical education and serving as one of North Miami’s co-deans of students with Warriors volleyball coach Karise Kabage.

Hawkins spent the past three years at Madison High School, serving as athletics director the past two.

“This is what I was looking for,” Hawkins said. “Madison was wonderful, but I wasn’t getting that day-to-day interaction with the students. If you had told me I would be a Warrior a few months ago, it wasn’t on my radar.

“Once I met the people at North Miami, it got on my radar fast.”

North Miami is Hawkins’ seventh high school coaching job. He started his run as a head coach at Caston in 1979 before moving on to jobs at Tri-Central, Greenfield-Central, DeKalb, Center Grove and Madison.

At Center Grove, Hawkins had a record of 126-94. His 2010-11 squad won a Class 4A sectional championship at Franklin Central but bowed out of tournament play the following week with a regional loss to Hamilton Southeastern at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Hawkins finished with a 33-39 record at Madison. He is tied for 10th place in career victories among the state’s active boys high school basketball coaches with 486.

Eighteen of the past 24 Hawkins-coached teams produced no less than 10 wins. In that time, he’s been part of seven sectional champions and had six squads finish the season with 20 or more victories.

Hawkins takes his formula for success to North Miami, which participates in the same Class 2A sectional as Lewis Cass, Manchester, Oak Hill, Rochester and Wabash.

“It’s a true challenge,” Hawkins said. “They haven’t had very many winning seasons, but guys like (North Miami athletics director and former Warriors coach) Clay Bolser got some things started, and he very much embraces the idea that we’re going to put things together.

“I’ve always been about building basketball programs and trying to make a different with young people. I’m so excited about this challenge.”

By the numbers

The winningest active boys basketball coaches in Indiana:


Jack Keefer;Lawrence North;760-312

J.R. Holmes;Bloomington South;760-332

Gene Miller;Washington;672-310

Jimmie Howell;Lapel;582-263

Al Rhodes;Penn;581-275

Bryan Hughes;Barr-Reeve;566-200

Mark James;Ben Davis;538-277

Jim Shannon;New Albany;521-240

Dave McCollough;Shenandoah;506-241

Cliff Hawkins;North Miami;486-326

Jerry Bomholt;Southwestern (Hanover);486-332

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.