Sam Hawley chuckles at the memory of the day his cell phone told him that William Chrisman High School was his “home.”


“That was really pretty funny,” said Hawley, a blue and gold William Chrisman Bear, through and through. “I was at my home on the weekend – after spending about 14 hours a day at the school – and my cell phone said, ‘10 minutes to home.’


“It thought my home was the high school. And you know what, I guess it is. This has been my home for the past four years, and I can’t believe how fast the last four years have gone by.


“I’ve loved every minute of representing Chrisman High School and now I’m looking forward to going to Northwest Missouri State University and doing the same thing.”


Wednesday afternoon, Hawley was behind the desk in the main office at Chrisman, going over a list of seniors with attendant Heather Jackson, the mother of Chrisman basketball standout – and longtime Hawley friend – Isaiah Jackson.


“I don’t know what we’re going to do without Sam,” Heather Jackson said, grinning. “He does everything at Chrisman.”


Activities director Greg McGhee, who is No. 1 on Hawley’s list of most influential people he has experienced over the years, agrees.


“This is Sam Hawley,” McGhee said. “I call him up, ask him if he can do something and that’s it. I know it will be done, be done right away and be done right.


“He’s amazing! One of the most amazing students or young men I’ve ever met. I’m not going to believe he is going to be gone (to college) the next school year until I walk into my office in the fall and he’s not there.”


Hawley has the same effect on Chrisman coaches.


Sam was the glue that held our team together,” basketball coach Jake Kates said. “I had to have a talk with him this year about letting his opinion be heard within the realm of our team.


“He did not realize how much the guys respected him and wanted to hear from him – a humble leader. We would not have done the things we have done the past three years without him.”


Tennis coach Jason Grubb echoes that sentiment.


“Sam is the embodiment of what kind of student-athlete our program wants to consist of,” Grubb said. “I actually ‘recruited’ him from our feeder middle school as a seventh grader on a meet-and-greet day and sold him on our vision right then and there.


“After his freshman year, we had a change in assistant coaches, but not values (since his dad became my assistant). For his importance to tennis, Sam has great effort and sportsmanship every time he arrives at the courts. His infectious teammate persona spreads throughout our program. He hits thousands of balls outside of the practice schedule and frequently suggests new ideas to us coaches.”


Grubb is quick to point out what Hawley means to Chrisman off the court.


“Sam is the ultimate citizen,” Grubb added. “He’s so giving to others and kind and genuine that it’s hard not to envy him. He really puts forth his best attitude daily. And he seeks opportunities to lead others by example not by fame-seeking.”


Hawley has earned varsity letters in tennis (he was the Bears’ No. 1 singles player as a junior, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out this season) and basketball; he is the National Honor Society treasurer; and has worked the Chrisman press box during football season since he was a seventh grader.


You might have seen him painting the new lines in the student parking lot at the high school, or decorating the halls or gymnasium for any special function.


“Sam is William Chrisman High School,” Grubb said. “That’s the best way to describe one of the most special young men I’ve ever been around.”


Looking back over the past four years, Hawley can’t select one special memory.


“There are too many of them, too many games, events, teachers and coaches,” Hawley said, pointing to a collage of Next Level Bears photos – Chrisman students who are now playing college sports – that he and Isaiah Jackson hung on a wall outside of McGhee’s office.


“I’m lucky I don’t need much sleep. I got about five hours the first couple of months of school because I was so excited about everything going on. Then, when basketball started, I got about seven hours.


“Then, this spring, with everything going on and tennis starting and then, getting canceled, I think I only got about four hours – but that’s OK. When I’m not sleeping I’m doing something here at my ‘home,’ William Chrisman.


“You know something, maybe this really is my home. And I love it.”