Hawkes Never Met a Meal He Didn't Eat

Posted On: 05/20/2015

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Be it racquet or fork, Brian Hawkes is usually armed and dangerous. On the racquetball court, he is ranked 16th in the nation. Behind the dinner table, he is going for the gold.

The Hawkes Diet is already legend around the U.S. Olympic Festival. Eight-thousand calories a day. Six to eight meals a day. Grocery bills totaling up to $750 a month.

Hawkes not only plays doubles, he eats doubles.

"It's amazing," says longtime friend and doubles partner Bill Sell. "Last year, we were in a restaurant together and he ate for 2 1/2 hours. For one meal. Some guy who weighed about 300 pounds finally came up to him and asked, 'What sport are you in?'

"Brian told him racquetball.

"The other guy says, 'Man, you're an eating machine .' "

And the machine seldom stops. When you bump into Hawkes, you notice the small picnic cooler he carries in his right hand. Notice, too, the three American Amateur Racquetball Assn. stickers affixed to the lid.

Hawkes calls it "my lunch box." Don't leave home without it. "I take it everywhere," he says. "It's been all across the country. It's even been out of the country."

Inside is sustenance. Banana and bread sandwiches, Hawkes' favorite. Turkey sandwiches. Cottage cheese. Pineapple slices. Energy bars.

A guy can never be too sure where his next meal's coming from.

When Hawkes arrived at the Olympic Festival last Friday, he ate five plates of pasta for dinner. Then he climbed aboard one of the athletes' buses headed for the Metrodome.

By the time Hawkes stepped off the bus, another sandwich from the lunch box was gone.

The next day, practice sessions for the racquetball competitors began. Hawkes made preparations. After breakfast, he decided the lunch box needed replenishing. With no grocery store within walking distance, Hawkes desperately flagged down a festival volunteer with a car.

Along the way, Hawkes polished off a half-dozen bananas.

"There are a lot of stories," Sell says. "My appetite has grown a tremendous amount just by eating with him."

By the time you catch up with Hawkes, you half expect to find John Candy smacking backhands. But in the flesh, Hawkes stands 6-2 and weighs 200 pounds. He's built like a lifeguard. He is slim and he is fast.

That's because Hawkes works out six hours a day. As the club pro at Racquetball World in Fountain Valley, Hawkes gets to mix work with pleasure. When he's not organizing and running the club's racquetball program, he gets to play with the club's exercise equipment.

"I ride the bike a lot, I lift weights and I play racquetball," he says. "I burn a lot of calories. My metabolism's so high, my eating, really, is just to maintain."

Hawkes eats right too. Practice makes perfect, they say. "I eat a lot of small meals," he says. "That's how it should be; it's better for your system. And I watch what I eat. I don't eat any fats, sugar or salts."

Kind of makes for a boring lunch box.

Not satisfied, an intrepid reporter digs deeper.

"Don't you ever cheat?" Hawkes unravels like a ball of kite string.

"Just in moderation," he answers. "I don't go on binges, but an occasional cheeseburger and fries isn't going to hurt. It's not like I'm obsessed. I just watch what I eat."

Others watch as well. When Todd O'Neil, festival racquetballer from Memphis, walked off the court after a singles defeat Thursday, he quipped, "I tried the Hawkes Diet today. Those 8,000 calories slowed me down."

Hawkes and Sell have also tasted defeat this tournament. In 1988, as undergraduates at Cal State Fullerton, they won the national amateur doubles championship by beating the Florida tandem of Sergio Gonzales and Tim Hansen. Thursday, the rivalry continued at the Olympic Festival and Gonzales-Hansen scored a 12-15, 15-9, 11-4 victory, dropping Hawkes-Sell to 1-2 in round-robin play. The teams meet again this morning, with the winner advancing to the gold medal match and the loser playing for the bronze.