It’s an opportunity that Charles Hawk III and his father, Charles Hawk II, weren’t sure the 12-year-old Ahwatukee resident would receive.
Young Charles was invited to try out for the USA Football Team with a chance to compete in the USA National Middle School Bowl Game Series in July. Phoenix was the first stop on the Team USA tour through 18 cities to find players.
“I just told him that we should go and enjoy the experience,” the senior Hawk said. “He was going up against sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school, and he’s 12. I told him that if he didn’t get an invitation that it was still a unique experience and that we were still very proud of him.”
Charles was the youngest lineman and only 12-year-old at the tryout. Over 750 players attended the event on March 23-24 at Campo Verde high School in Gilbert. His parents thought the odds of receiving an invitation were slim.
About a week later while sitting on the back porch of the family’s home in Ahwatukee, Charles’ mother, Anne Marie, couldn’t help but let out a scream when an email popped up on her phone screen.
He had made the team.
“I was very excited and honored to receive an invitation after only a week,” Hawk said. “I was hoping to receive an invitation to the team, but didn’t know it would come within a week.”
In many ways, Charles is just like his 12-year-old classmates at Akimel A-al Middle School.
But where he begins to separate himself from the others is his work ethic both on and off the field.
Charles is in all gifted classes at Akimel, and has taken it upon himself to practice and train. His parents believe his willingness to work hard has helped him become successful at the center position at a young age.
“We are just so proud of him for being a good kid,” his father said. “He has tremendous respect for other people and he dedicates himself to so many things.
“He would always go out in the backyard by himself and practice snapping. Nobody had to tell him to do it, he just genuinely wanted to get better.”
Charles began playing tackle football and training with his father at a young age. He was part of the East Valley Thunder youth football team that won the state championship in 2017.
Next year, he plans to play for the East Valley Titans, who is coached by Desert Vista High School freshman football coach Larry Davis. He recently began training at Pro Edge Performance, a training center located in Chandler owned by former professional football player and Desert Vista defensive line coach, Derek Kennard Jr.
Charles has amped up his training to four days a week in preparation for the Team USA game. He wants to play well, but not for personal reasons. He wants to represent his country on a big stage.
“I want to do the best job I can to help my team and our country be the best in the world,” Charles said. “I am excited to be able to actually put on a football uniform that has the USA stars and stripes. That means a lot to me.”
The game will take place on July 15 at the Ford Center at the Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility in Frisco, Texas. Charles will begin practicing with the rest of the team on July 11 at the University of Texas-Arlington’s stadium.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help with travel expenses, including airfare, transportation and registration costs for the game. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/us-nationals-football-team.