Utah State track and field athlete Chari Hawkins was honored by the NCAA on Thursday, as she was a recipient of the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award. Hawkins is the second Mountain West student-athlete in as many years to be recognized by the NCAA for sportsmanship, joining Air Force’s William Kent who was honored last year.
Hawkins, who was honored by the Mountain West with the Hal Rothman Sportsmanship Award in July, was one of two NCAA student-athletes to receive the national Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award for the 2014-15 academic year, joining Northern Michigan cross-country runner Jaylee Brown.
Hawkins, a junior during the 2013-14 campaign, has competed as a member of the Aggies’ track and field team for three years. At the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 13, 2014, Hawkins was competing in the 800 meters segment of the women’s heptathlon when she saw Georgia’s Kendall Williams trip and fall in the middle of the race. Hawkins slowed down to offer assistance and encouragement to her fellow competitor, clapping her hands and helping Williams up off the track. Williams recovered and finished the race, eventually winning the national championship in the heptathlon. Hawkins, who went on to finish 13th in the 800 meters with a personal-best time of 2:24.13, ended up with a ninth-place finish in the heptathlon to earn second-team All-American honors. Helping her competitor possibly cost Hawkins a first-team All-American accolade, as she ended the event just one spot and six points shy of the top-eight finishers.
“Honestly, it was just instinct for me to offer encouragement to Kendall and make sure she was OK,” Hawkins said. “At first, I thought someone had tripped her and that made me mad. I have had really good role models in my life. My parents are very humble and I think I have surrounded myself with good people, which is a big reason why I am who I am today.”
A family consumer science education major from Rexburg, Idaho, Hawkins is the first Utah State student-athlete to earn the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award.
The Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award, administered by the NCAA Committee on sportsmanship and ethical conduct, is given to student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior. Sportsmanship is one of the founding principles of the NCAA, and these awards honor the efforts of student-athletes who work to protect the integrity of the game and create an even and welcoming playing field for all student-athletes and fans.
Doug Hoffman is the associate athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.