April 28, 1999
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming track and field team is getting a major, and somewhat unexpected, contribution from one of the state's own.
Sophomore Tamara Hawkins is making her mark in the throwing events for the Cowgirls. With many talented teammates around her, Hawkins is the top shot puter on the team. The Sheridan, Wyo., native qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the shot put and 20-pound weight throw, and is well on her way to the outdoor championships as well.
With all her recent success, there was a time when Hawkins thought that her track career was over. "I came to Laramie a couple of weeks before my freshman year," said Hawkins. "And the old coach didn't know who I was. They didn't have my video or my file. The coach basically just let me try out."
Things got worse for Hawkins and she walked away from the team. "Track wasn't the main reason I came to Wyoming. I was more concerned with academics."
For the remainder of her freshman year Hawkins concentrated on academics, where she is majoring in business administration. But she would get a surprising call from new UW head coach Larry Judge.
"When coach Judge got here, he was looking at the media guide from the previous year and saw some of my marks in high school," said Hawkins. "He found out I was still on campus and asked me to come back out on the team. I had learned enough the previous year that he put me on partial scholarship at the beginning of the next semester."
Since rejoining the team, Hawkins has improved by leaps and bounds. During the 1998-99 indoor season alone, Hawkins improved her personal best in the shot put by over eight feet at 50' 2 3/4". Entering her redshirt freshman year she had a best mark of 47' 2 1/4" in the 20-pound weight throw, and this year she threw the weight 60' 9 1/2".
All of this dramatic improvement can be attributed to the hard work and training set up in the Wyoming program. "We practice around our classes in the morning with smaller groups, and then we all practice at 3:00 p.m. After practice we lift, we are usually done lifting around 7:00 p.m. Coach Judge has a really good workout program that lets us continually build."
Coming to Laramie from Sheridan, Hawkins is well aware of the challenges the ever-changing Wyoming weather can pose. "I got used to the weather in high school," said Hawkins. "My coach in high school said that you always have to be prepared for the weather, so it doesnt really affect me that much."
Throwing outdoors also can have an effect on the marks of the athletes. The elements outside can usually take two or three feet off of a shot put throw. That fact gives Hawkins her next immediate goal. "I want to go over 50 feet outdoors and make nationals."
With two years of competition ahead of her, Hawkins still has the opportunity to improve even more and put her name in the Cowgirl record books for the foreseeable future. "I want to become an All-American," said Hawkins. "Being from Wyoming, I think it means a little more to me. Being from this state makes it a big deal for me."
By Dusty Clements
Wyoming Sports Information