The mission of the Colorado HAWKS is to create an opportunity and an alternative to gangs for at-risk, disadvantaged youth. We provide a year-round, culturally diverse, education focused program fueled by basketball and soccer program for boys and girls.
In 1996, Denver Sheriff George Williams moved to Colorado from Arkansas. He was instrumental in the nationally known Arkansas Hawks program. Upon becoming integrated in Colorado, Mr. Williams saw a need for a similar program as the Arkansas Hawks in Colorado. He took steps to start the Colorado Hawks with the help of his uncle Greg Willis. He saw the success of Greg’s life being centered around education and sports as an asset to development of the program.
Greg agreed to be involved as long as the emphasis was on education and getting kids into college. Greg grew up in Arkansas during an era where opportunities were limited unless you were involved with athletics. If you were under-privledged and did not receive an athletic scholarship to attend college you would end up at a dead end job. An athletic scholarship and academics were the only means of achieving a higher education. This became the foundation of the Colorado Hawks program.
In Arkansas, there were many kids who never graduated from high school due to poverty or being from single parent homes. There were little resources to assist these families and many kids lives were destroyed. We knew that basketball and soccer would be the magnet to draw the kids into the program. Once they were engaged, services would be offered to support healthy childhood development by providing tutoring, counseling, food, medical help and clothing as incentives to stay in school. Grade requirements were implemented to remain participants in the program. There was a need to instill in kids that in order to level the playing field, it required hard work in the classroom and the sport of their choice. This went hand in hand in order for them to achieve their goals and become successful.
The results speak for themselves. Since our inception, 22 years ago, every student-athlete in our program has received a high school diploma. Most children who struggled in school and were considered learning disabled, were now making the honor roll which allowed them to stay in the program. Over 88% of our players have received full scholarships at top universities throughout the country. Youth in our program have grown up to become productive contributors in life. Some of the children have become Sports Agents, NBA Scouts, Wall Street Brokers, College Coaches, Dentist, Doctors, Navy Seals, Professional Football and Basketball Players, and Entrepreneurs. Most of these kids would have never graduated high school or gone to college had it not been for their involvement with the Colorado Hawks program.
A true testimonial of our success can be measured in just the past 3 years of players who have worn a Colorado Hawks uniform that have gone onto play Division 1 basketball, Volleyball, and soccer.
Jeremiah Paige – Colorado State University
Mitch Lombard – University of Colorado