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Joe Hawley Shapes Up

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The Tamp Bay Buccaneers Center finds peace through ceramics

I started pottery my junior year of high school after my friend said I should try a ceramics class. The teacher was really cool, just a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He would pick one or two students every week to go on the pottery wheel, and when my turn came up, I was a natural. He let me stay on the wheel for the rest of the year, and eventually one of my pieces won third place in the school art contest. I’m pretty proud of that one. 


​I loved it so much I tried to take a ceramics class in college, but I could never get enrolled in one because it was always during football practice. Once I got drafted and finally got a little bit of money, I decided it would be a good time to buy my own wheel and get back into it. 

I think you’ve got to have a creative, artistic edge — and some patience. Pottery teaches you to calm your mind and be patient, because if you aren’t, the whole piece could fall apart. It gives me something to focus on to shut down the outside world and clear my head. 


​The coolest thing about it is you have an idea of what you want it to look like when you throw the clay down, but you have to let the clay work itself. If you work it too much, the piece will actually fall apart, so you’re kind of restricted. You don’t really know when you start what the finished product will look like — it’s kind of a surprise. 

I play football with a lot of passion, and I do get fired up out there, but off the field I’m a more laid-back guy. It’s kind of two different guys. Making pottery helps me get rid of all the stresses in life. It’s peaceful.

— as told to Charlie Broaddus

Photos: Jeffrey Salter (Hawley at home), Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP (action)