Black History Month: Catching up with Trudi James Hawke

Black History Month: Catching up with Trudi James Hawke

History Links Follow this month of February as Auburn football catches up with some of its most notable and successful alumni as we celebrate Black History Month. First on the court is the program’s first-ever African-American student-athlete to don the Orange & Blue, Trudi James Hawke.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue your career at Auburn?
Hawke: I fell in love with the campus and was excited about the opportunity for a brand new program.

Q: How would you describe your experience at Auburn in one word?
Hawke: Define.

Q: What did it mean to you to be Auburn’s first black footballer?
Hawke: Growing up and playing football in South Florida, there was always a lot of diversity on the field. It was quite a culture shock to see that wasn’t the case at Auburn or the SEC in the 90s, however, my teammates were great! I have made some great lifelong friends and have been thrilled to see how the program continues to grow with players from all walks of life. It’s also nice to see all the support from organizations within the Auburn-Opelika community.

Q: What is your fondest memory of your time at university?
Hawke: There are so many! Football-wise, beating Florida in a shootout in the 1995 SEC tournament, my sophomore year. I grew up playing with many of these girls and their keeper was my club teammate for many years. It’s a fun memory because the game was in Auburn, the field was soaked with rain and the whole team fought when we won.

Q: What did it mean to you to be an example of a successful Black student-athlete at the highest level, both athletically and academically?
Hawke: To be honest, I don’t know if it was entirely on my radar at 17 in the 90s. Coming from Jamaica and having a family deeply involved in football, it felt like it was part of my DNA, but I was probably more aware of being a student-athlete more than anything.

Q: What did you graduate into and where are you now?
Hawke: My degree from Auburn is a BS in Zoology, and I feel like I need to qualify that with an explanation. At the time, HHP and others were unavailable and I had to choose a science concentration through Auburn’s Pre-Physical Therapy. Zoology had the most emphasis on anatomy and physiology, which is why I chose it. I am currently a certified yoga teacher and teacher trainer.

Q: What makes Auburn football special?
Hawke: There are only bonds that are forged when you represent your alma mater in a sport that you love so much. The memories and friendships I still have are priceless.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in your career?
Hawke: I think my biggest accomplishment was continuing to grow as a player over those four years. There were times when it was easy to become complacent or discouraged by injuries and other factors, but being determined to improve and not give up when the going gets tough is my greatest achievement.

Q: What advice would you give to current and future program members?
Hawke: Enjoy! Take full advantage of the resources and opportunities available to you because you are part of the program. Believe in Auburn and love it!

Q: What is your heritage? What do you want people to take away from Trudi?
Hawke: I hope anyone’s feelings or memories of me reflect that I was a genuine person.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share regarding your experience as a black student-athlete or regarding your time at Auburn as a whole?
Hawke: My overall experience during my time as a black student-athlete was that the whole student-athlete body was extremely supportive of each other. We all had an understanding of what it meant to be a student-athlete and to represent Auburn and there was a mutual respect that was apparent. Like I said before, it was initially a culture shock for me at 17, but I quickly learned to love it. I enjoyed my time representing Auburn and am forever grateful! Eagle of war!

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