by Martin Winstanley – Former Victoria Eagles Premier pitcher Luke Hawkins has parlayed a successful career in baseball to the beginnings of a successful career in dentistry, having recently been accepted into the UBC Faculty of Dentistry.
During the first two years of the Eagles Baseball program, Luke Hawkins was one of the Premier Eagles most effective pitchers. The left-hander's ability to hit locations with a variety of pitches kept opposing batters off-balance and walking back to the dugout shaking their heads in frustration.
Eagles General Manager Gautam Srivastava has nothing but praise for Luke's performances on the mound, "I coached Luke from 2006 until his graduation from the Eagles program in 2011. Luke was a gamer, a lefty pitcher with an unbelievable command of three pitches. He had the best lefty move to first at every level he played. He was the most composed pitcher I have ever coached, and no situation was too big for him."
Hawkins, here pitching for the Eagles in 2011, was a dominant force on the mound for the Eagles Premier program (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Luke was a key member of the Victoria Bantam AAA team that won the 2008 National Championship. In his senior year for the Premier Eagles, Luke had a 1.85 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched. He was a team leader on the Premier Eagles in both 2010 and 2011. Luke exemplifies the term "all-rounder."
After his graduation from Eagles Baseball and Esquimalt High School in 2011, Luke attended Vancouver Island University where he pursued a BSc in Biology and played for the VIBI Mariners.
In 2012, he was awarded the 2012 "Rookie of the Year" award from VIBI Mariners. He also played summer ball for the Weyburn Beavers in the Western Major Baseball League.
His success on the diamond paralleled his success in the classroom where Luke managed to balance the demands of playing college baseball with the hard work required for academic success. This past spring, he graduated from VIU with a GPA of 3.99 and last week Luke's lifelong dream was realized – an acceptance letter from the prestigious Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia. Luke was one of 48 students chosen from hundreds of applicants.
Looking back on his years of playing baseball, Luke believes his years with the Eagles organization were instrumental in his current success, "Eagles Baseball was a major focus of my life in high school," said Hawkins. "It has definitely helped me get into dental school. Although I was always interested in my education, Eagles coaches encouraged me to stay interested at a time when I was losing track of the big picture."
After graduating from the BCPBL Eagles, Hawkins went on to play for the VIBI Mariners where he won Rookie of the Year in 2012.
"Eagles Baseball also taught me valuable social skills such as how to win and lose as a team, how to communicate, and generally how to play 'the game' the right way," added Hawkins. "My years of playing competitive baseball with the Eagles also look great on a resume, aiding me in securing employment in high school and university. The further I get from high school, the more valuable my Eagles Baseball experience seems."
Luke's mother, Jayne Hawkins, has reason to be proud of both her sons, as Mitch wrapped up his Eagles career last summer as a member of the Premier Eagles, winners of the 2013 BCPBL Championship. Like his older brother, Mitch is attending VIU, taking Business courses and playing ball for the VIBI Mariners.
Jayne recounts the importance of baseball to both boys after the death of their father, Ernie Hawkins, a well-known figure in Victoria curling, "Baseball has given my boys and I so much since the summer of 2006 when their dad Ernie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given a short time to live. Ernie was such a big part of our lives and I wondered how we would get through that awful time. That summer, the game of baseball held us together and distracted us from life without Ernie as he passed away just a few days before Luke's PeeWee AAA team participated in the National's. Being with the teams and families at the ballpark was somehow comforting. In the years since, the Eagles' coaches have provided great support for Luke and Mitch both on and off the field."
Luke's younger brother Mitch, here playing with the Eagles in 2013, is following in his older brother's footsteps, also attending VIU and playing for the VIBI Mariners (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Martin Winstanley, the Chair of Eagles Baseball, says Luke's academic achievements show the importance of the goals of the program, "Eagles Baseball emphasizes the development of fundamental baseball skills and the character of our young players. The values inherent in the game of baseball prepare them to succeed not only on the diamond but in life. Luke has shown our Eagles ballplayers the value of making the right choices – both on and off the field."