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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Arena notebook: Saint Joseph’s Hawk still unflappable

For the second time in three days, the St. Joseph’s Hawk was doing his thing Sunday night at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

As St. Joseph’s faced Oregon in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Hawk did what makes him one of the more famous mascots in college sports: flapping his wings … all game long.

From pregame warmups to the final buzzer, that adds up to about 3,500 flaps.

So, are his wings tired, Mr. Hawk? Not at all.

“Hey, we’re 35 games into the season,” laughed Timmy Parks, the man behind the Hawk and the proud standard bearer of a tradition that goes back 61 years.

“I was even all right last weekend, when we played three straight games in the conference tournament.”

It’s all in the technique, said Parks, who at 6-foot, 180 pounds is a Joe college-looking guy with perfectly normal shoulder muscles.

All that work is a dream come true for Parks, whose father – a St. Joe’s alum – drove him to games from their home in Wilmington, Delaware. “By the age of 6 or 7, I was telling people that I wanted to be the Hawk – really.”

The dream stuck. In the spring of his sophomore year, Parks applied for the job which includes team manager duties – but comes with a full scholarship. After an unflappable performance in his interview, he soared over dozens of other candidates to earn the job.

Now about that wing-flapping. Does it, uh, ruffle any feathers, especially for opposing fans stuck behind the Hawk?

Yes, but Parks always has his game face on.

“Most fans are pretty respectful, but Temple and Rhode Island fans can get a little rough,” Parks said. “But I just have to be forward-thinking and represent Saint Joseph’s.”

Redemption for Terps and Turgeon

Until Sunday, playing in Spokane held nothing but bad memories for Maryland basketball.

Six years ago, the fourth-seeded Terrapins came into the Arena as a favorite to reach the Sweet 16. Instead, they lost a two-pointer to Michigan State.

The memories are so bad that former coach Gary Williams, still a Maryland athletic administrator and fundraiser since his retirement in 2011, chose not to rekindle them. He spent the weekend at home, watching the Terps on television.

Presumably, Williams, who won the NCAA title with the Terps in 2002, will see them in person in the South Region in Louisville.

Sunday’s win also buried some bad memories for current Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. On the same day Maryland lost to MSU, Turgeon’s Texas A&M squad lost a by pair to Purdue, also in Spokane.

“It was one of the worst (losses of my career),” Turgeon said.

Hawaii’s odyssey finally ends

When they left Honolulu three weeks ago, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors probably didn’t pack enough clothes to last three weeks.

But there they were on Sunday afternoon, closing out their third week on the road with a 73-60 loss to Maryland.

Imagine, trading spring break week on Waikiki for a stroll in Riverfront Park.

In fact, Hawaii hasn’t been home since March 1, when the Warriors left Honolulu to finish the Big West Conference regular season in California. They stuck around warm SoCal for the Big West tournament in Anaheim, then flew to Spokane – presumably to buy some warmer clothes.

Once here, they were backed by hundreds of fans, many of whom managed to find fresh palm fronds – in Spokane, no less – to help cheer on their heroes.

A win over Maryland would have kept them on the mainland for another week. Instead, they’re heading home.

When they return for the NCAAs is anyone’s guess: the Warriors are on probation next year.

Strong performance from Spokane

The Arena put on its best face for the nation over the weekend. But then, it’s had plenty of practice.

This was Spokane’s sixth subregional since 2003. The seats were full, the crowds were loud.

So what’s next next for the Arena? Spokane was shut out on bidding for men’s games in 2017 and 2018, but figures to be in the running later.

The next scheduled NCAA event in Spokane will be a women’s regional in 2018.