Monty Hawkins comes full circle back to La Salle Prep boys soccer
Monty Hawkins is going back to the future.
Hawkins, the boys soccer coach at Sherwood for the past 14 seasons, has returned to La Salle Prep, where he coached the Falcons to a state co-title in the 1990s in his first high school head coaching job.
"My heart is in some ways attached to La Salle because that's where I started," Hawkins said. "I was just learning how to start coaching. We were in three state finals. We were a relevant program back then, and they've maintained it. It's kind of a nice circle, to come back around and do it."
Hawkins, who graduated from Gladstone in 1984, went 78-13-9 in six seasons at La Salle Prep (1990-95). The Falcons shared the Class 3A/2A/1A title with Catlin Gabel in 1994 and were runners-up in 1991 and 1993.
He served as Portland State women's head coach in 1997 and 1998, and returned to high school coaching at Sherwood in 2007. The Bowmen went 95-97-25 under Hawkins, having markedly more success in his first seven seasons in 5A competition (66-35-11) than his last seven seasons in 6A play (29-62-14).
"In 6A, we were kind of on the outside looking in," said Hawkins, who owns Tualatin Indoor Soccer and holds a U.S. Soccer "A" coaching license.
In the meantime, La Salle Prep has continued as one of the state's top programs. The Falcons won three titles under Chris Thurley (1998, 1999, 2004) and one each under Joe Frimpong (2009) and Seth Altshuler (2019).
Altshuler stepped down after guiding La Salle Prep to the 5A title in 2019 and was replaced by Merlin Triplett, who went 7-2-2 this year before he and the school parted ways.
That's when La Salle Prep athletic director Chris George contacted Sherwood athletic director Randy Ramp to ask if Hawkins could assist in identifying a strong coaching candidate. George's father, Bill, was the La Salle Prep athletic director when Hawkins coached with the Falcons.
"I started talking with Chris, and I go, 'I might just throw my name in the ring,'" Hawkins said. "He told me I'd be a strong candidate. I went and met with the leadership, and they offered me the job. And I said, 'OK.' It was like a whirlwind. You know how when you're not looking for something, and it happens."
Hawkins and his wife, Lisa — a former volleyball standout at St. Mary's Academy (maiden name Hecht) — live in West Linn. Their triplet sons — Lucas, Nicolas and Jackson — are sixth-graders at St. John the Apostle in Oregon City and play soccer year-round.
"The prospect of having them in the soccer program, it's obviously something that piques my interest," Hawkins said. "I'm excited about what La Salle has going on now, and looking forward to the future, if my kids get into school there, I'll be around then. But that's more of a motivator that was on top of everything else."
Hawkins said he needs to get up to speed on the players in the La Salle Prep program. Twelve of the 18 players on the varsity roster are eligible to return, including standouts Mizael Harris and Quentin Strange, who will be entering their senior and junior seasons.
Hawkins said he watched the Falcons' final 2021 games against Central Catholic and Lake Oswego and came away impressed.
"They certainly didn't look like they were 5A and the other team was 6A, that's for sure," Hawkins said. "In those two games, every player on the team looked pretty good. Walking into it, I had no idea what was in their arsenal."
Many of the names and faces will be different, but after going back to the school, Hawkins said that much remains the same at La Salle Prep.
"This is the same place. I felt like I was in a time capsule," he said. "La Salle is like a family that I'm reconnecting with after 26 years. It just happened so quick. It wasn't something I had planned on."
Jerry Ulmer writes for OSAAtoday.
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