Team USA Eagle 7s Captain Matthew “Polar Bear” Hawkins, despite being a husband & daddy and coaching SDSU as he rehabs 2 off-season surgeries, takes the Thursday slot on RWU. This week, he chats up fellow Eagle Mark Bokhoven. They are reporting in from San Diego, CA.
MH: Bok, you have a fascination with trivia and a special place in your heart for Jeopardy. Could you help us understand how that came to be and how it influences your daily life?
BOK: Don’t really know how it all started. As a kid, I was always a good student and was always reading and learning, really enjoyed it. I can remember from an early age, I would read the newspaper from front to back and be at the library getting new books and magazines to read each week. Now I have the internet and National Geographic magazines that keep me up to date on all the things going on in the world. I am just fascinated but everything and want to learn and experience as much as possible. And yes, Jeopardy is a big part of my day. The new season actually just started yesterday so I was pretty excited. I try to watch it everyday and if anyone is at my place, I always challenge them to a game. My old roommate and 7s teammate, Paul Emerick, was probably the worst player… ever.
MH: You have been involved with USA Sevens program for a few years now. How have you seen it change and evolve and what are some of your highlights?
BOK: So, I first received the opportunity to play for the USA 7s team in 2005. There were no tryouts or even pre-tournament camps that year, the team was just selected and showed up to play. Now there the process is much more involved with pre-season camps, pre-tournament camps and on-going fitness and mental preparations. Also I think there is a core group of players now that are very serious about 7s and helping the USA get to that next level. I think the highlight of my career would have to be getting the call up in 2005 while I will still at Iowa State University. Honestly every time since that first tour, when I get to put on the USA jersey and represent my country, it is a huge highlight for me.
MH: I have to ask this question, were you adopted by David Williams?
BOK: Contrary to popular belief, Davie is not my dad. We have a love/hate relationship but he is a great strength, conditioning and skills coach and I really appreciate what he has done for me in the past couple of years. And someday I will beat him up Mt Sanitas in Boulder, CO.
MH: Sticking to the Body-By-Bok program is something that many people have tried very unsuccessfully to do. How did it come about and how have you managed to turn it in to a lifestyle for yourself?
BOK: Body-By-Bok has evolved over the past 10 years and really no one has been able to repeat it. It is a mindset that started out with me wanting to prove that I was better than pretty much everyone back at university and to prove a couple different things to three people from my high school (a girl, a teammate and a coach). I made up my own lifting, speed and conditioning program (which included concrete blocks at the time) and have just continued with it. I still wake up everyday with a drive to prove almost everyone that I am better than them or at least will out-work them so that someday I will beat them. People have asked me multiple times for my secrets but really it is that drive that just makes me work everyday and have fun with it at the same time.
MH: You have had a few serious injuries throughout your rugby career. You find yourself on the come back currently from a pretty severe injury. How are you feeling and what are your thoughts going in to camp this week.
BOK: Coming back from a major knee surgery is always tricky. I feel great and I am actually stronger than I was pre-injury and feel just as fast and fit. I guess I’ll find out this week at camp when we do the fitness testing though… I am excited to get back out on the field and play again. I’m sure the first contact situation I’ll think about my knee but after that hopefully it’ll be back to normal and I’ll be able to just concentrate on playing.
MH: You’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with the youth through your Big Brother program and the youth camps you helped out with over the summer. What has been your message and why do you feel that the youth is so important?
BOK: Sports have had such a huge impact on my life that I just want to encourage kids these days to get involved. I honestly believe children involved in sports do so much better in school and prepares them for many of life’s challenges. I try to show kids that anything is possible if have the discipline to work hard and believe in yourself and your dreams.
MH: You have regular run-ins with the Disney Channel during your tour schedule. How does that effect you mentally and physically?
BOK: It is exhausting, physically and mentally. I am guessing it is similar to having to run a day care, just a constant need for your attention. But I have some ideas to straighten it out this upcoming season…
MH: Lastly, how easy is it to get you to take your shirt off?
BOK: Clearly, I hate wearing shirts. If you find me in Denver, outside and the temperature is above 55 degrees, good chance I don’t have a shirt on. But I actually refrain from taking it off in public places, contrary to popular belief. My teammates, Paul Emerick and Nu’u Punimata, have their shirts off way more than I do on tour. They cruise around everywhere without their shirts on and don’t even have as good as body as me…
MH: Thanks boss. It’s all in good fun.
BOK: You got it.