Nov. 17—Akiera Hawk's life has been filled with love, faith, and basketball.
The Pittsburg senior signed her National Letter of Intent to play college basketball for Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant Thursday during a special ceremony at her school. Hawk said it was a special moment, and said none of it would be possible without her faith.
"I want to give all the glory to God," she said. "God put me on this path for a reason, and wherever he leads me is where I'll go. I have nothing to fear because he's on my side."
Hawk's love for the game started at a very young age, from the moment she first put a tiny toy basketball in her hand.
"I started playing basketball as soon as I could walk on mini hoops around my house," she said.
Hawk grew up with the game, with her passion for it growing alongside her. And she said even the most seemingly minuscule moments are some of her favorite aspects of being on the hardwood.
"Getting to celebrate the little things on the court with my team," she said. "And the intensity those moments bring."
Hawk has seen a lot of success as a Lady Panther, including a state semifinal run last season and a McAlester News-Capital All-Area First Team honor. In the 2022-2023 season, she averaged 16.3 points, eight rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.6 steals per game.
And although she's just begun her final high school season, Hawk will have plenty to look forward to after graduation after signing with Southeaster. Hawk said she chose to continue her career in Durant because all signs pointed her down that path.
"The environment just feels like home, and the coaches are more than what I could ever ask for," she said. "Something about the school just feels like the place where God wants me to be."
While in college, Hawk plans to better her relationship with God, while also maintaining good grades and playing with more confidence than previously in her athletic career. She'll also study to attain a degree in biology, with plans to continue her education after graduation at Northeastern State University's Optometry School.
Looking back on her hoops history, many moments stood out — but a few in particular quickly rose to the surface.
"My favorite basketball memory would definitely have to be the week I spent in Arizona, leading into the winning of the NABI (Native American Basketball Invitational) Championship," she said. "Or when my team went to state in 2021, which was the most fun three days of my life."
And as she relived the memories, all the little moments of her life racing through her brain, she said it was the efforts of one very special person that helped make her the woman she is today.
"My biggest supporter has always been my mom. I don't think that will ever change. She's got me to where I am through every challenge the world has thrown at her," Hawk said. "I didn't realize how much my mom did for me, especially in basketball, until I was about 15. She's given up so much for me just so I could play this sport and be the athlete that I am.
"I owe her everything in life and basketball," she said.
Hawk's elation and gratitude swelled as she took the next step in her life. And while her time in high school will end at the end of this season, she gave a word of advice for those that will find themselves in her same shoes one day.
"Play your hardest anytime you have the opportunity to. Taking the chance to give everything you've got every time is what will make you prosper as an athlete," she said. "God gave you the opportunity to play for a reason, don't let it go to waste."