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Embracing adversity: Michaela Hawkins aims for success

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Courtesy of CSU Athletics

Michaela Hawkins boasts a stellar track record in collegiate athletics as a Colorado State thrower. She earned the distinctions Academic All-Mountain West in 2021-22 and Women’s Track and Field Letterwinner in 2021-23 and was named to the All-Mountain West team in 2022-23.

“I did a lot of sports in grade school, and then I got diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which is an autoimmune thing,” Hawkins said. “It made my joints really sore, and I was tired and anemic.”

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Initially hesitant to join any sports in high school due to her health condition, Hawkins found herself drawn to throwing upon her parents’ suggestion.

“My parents were like, ‘You should try out for track — specifically throwing because there’s no running,'” Hawkins said.

Hawkins’ journey in track and field has been one of steady progression and unwavering determination. Her dedication deepened as she began to realize her potential and receive encouragement from coaches.

Remembering her beginnings in track and field, Hawkins noted the friendship among her teammates.

“I really want to hit a big number with the discus, and I want to learn more about everyone in our team.” –Michaela Hawkins, thrower

“Throwers like to eat a lot, and we’re always snacking,” Hawkins said. “That was one of my favorite parts as well as traveling.”

After spending two years at North Dakota State University, Hawkins was at a crossroads. That was until her coach moved to a different institution.

“He left (the) school that I was at and went to Nebraska,” Hawkins said. “I thought, ‘This is a good time to, like, reevaluate where I want to be in life.’ I went into the transfer portal and took a tour there to Nebraska where he was, and I got recruited here (at CSU).”

There were many factors influencing Hawkins’ decision to join the CSU track team.

“There are only good things to say about the coach; he has such a good program, and then the overall CSU track team is so sweet, so welcoming,” Hawkins said. “I have other passions outside of track, but right now, it is what I live, breathe and eat.”

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Some of the biggest challenges Hawkins recognized were staying focused and putting limits on how much she pushes herself.

“Sometimes, I try to push hard, and then I realize you have so many more levels to get to,” Hawkins said.

On the other hand, to improve Hawkins’ throwing ability, CSU coach Brian Bedard explores all aspects of her technique adjustment.

“I’m asking her to be aggressive with her lower body and be relaxed with her upper body,” Bedard said. “That’s a really tough job for an athlete to separate their body like that.”

Bedard and teammate Klaire Kovatch only had praise for Hawkins’ dedication and team-first mindset. Specifically, Kovatch admires Hawkins’ desire to help.

“If I’m struggling with something, she’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve been there before, and this is what helped me,'” Kovatch said. “At the end of the day, we all want to see each other improve, and Michaela definitely has led that attitude on this team.”

Bedard echoed this sentiment, noting Hawkins’ consistent presence during voluntary summer practices and the noticeable improvements she’s made in her performance.

“During the summer, we only have voluntary practice, and she’s there,” Bedard said. “I’ve seen significant improvement as far as consistency.”

Kovatch also highlighted Hawkins’ lively personality and self-confidence, characterizing her as a ray of positivity and passion.

“Her standout characteristic is just being super outgoing, super passionate about things that she loves and not caring if other people don’t like her because of it,” Kovatch said.

Hawkins considered her goals with a combination of resolve and introspection as her final year at CSU approaches. She explained her goals and emphasized her dedication to doing everything she can before leaving.

“I want to leave the track season with no regrets,” Hawkins said. “I want to know that I put everything I could into it. I really want to hit a big number with the discus, and I want to learn more about everyone in our team.”

Reach Hania Nini at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @HaniaNini123.

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