Conrad “CEO” Hawley’s influence outside of the game of basketball

Conrad Hawley celebrates a three pointer from Tamin Lipsey against Florida A&M at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 17, 2023. Lipsey finished with 19 points.
Conrad Hawley celebrates a three pointer from Tamin Lipsey against Florida A&M at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 17, 2023. Lipsey finished with 19 points.
Tyler Coe
Conrad Hawleys seat, labeled, Chief Energy Officer. ISU vs. IUPUI mens basketball game. Nov. 7, 2022.

AMES — Throughout Conrad Hawley’s journey from a Kansas scholarship quarterback to an Iowa State walk-on basketball player, he has used his platform to give back and inspire others.

Hawley’s story to Iowa State does not look like most people. Within a two-year span, he won a football state title, committed to play football at Kansas, graduated early, moved to Colorado, enrolled at Iowa State and became an immediate fan favorite on the basketball team without playing more than four minutes in a game.

Hawley grew up in Raymore, Missouri, and played football and basketball his whole life.

“I can still remember Conrad as an elementary school-age kid, just being out there, being a leader,” said Sean Martin, Hawley’s head football coach at Raymore-Peculiar. “He’s always been a leader, a go-getter, an all-in type guy. He’s not halfway in. He’s all the way in on whatever he does.”

Along with his leadership, he had that spark of energy that everyone knew him for. Martin describes him as an energy giver.

As a sophomore in high school, Hawley was thrown into the starting quarterback position when as the starter at the time was injured. The team may not have won many games that year, but he did not let this rattle him.

Because of his work ethic, he came back as a junior, and the team went all the way to the state semifinals.

As Hawley finished his junior year, the world shut down due to COVID-19, and all sports stopped. That included the Raymore-Peculiar football team, which could not hold an organized practice.

Hawley and his teammates did not want to just watch the time pass, so they hosted their own football practices anywhere they could find an open field. Hawley told Martin, “We’ve been kicked off every football field in Kansas City.”

Conrad Hawley’s seat, labeled, “Chief Energy Officer.” ISU vs. IUPUI men’s basketball game. Nov. 7, 2022. (Jacob Rice)
Conrad Hawley celebrates with his teammates during a timeout against K-State on Jan. 24.

At this time, Hawley was being recruited for both basketball and football. If he put on more weight, he would have a better chance to be able to play at the highest level in football. Hawley wanted to compete at the highest level he could, so he did just that.

As a senior, Hawley helped lead his football team to a 6A Missouri State Championship. His willingness to be a good leader and hold his teammates accountable helped him do so.

“I think we won it because we had a group of guys who were not afraid to hold each other accountable. As a young man, I feel like it can be hard to use the word love, especially around guys but we loved each other and the way we loved each other was holding each other accountable,” Hawley said to the 2023 Raymore-Peculiar football team.

After his senior football season, he graduated early, missing his senior basketball season, to enroll in Kansas and start training with the football team.

During the 2021 season, the quarterback position at Kansas went through a lot of uncertainty. Hawley was lower on the depth chart, with many upperclassmen above him. He did not see any playing time on the field and redshirted for his freshman season.

Hawley realized he needed a change when the 2021 college football season ended. He didn’t feel purposeful at Kansas and entered the transfer portal.

From January 2022 to May 2022, he lived in Colorado. While living in Colorado, Hawley decided to take a semester off from school. He worked three jobs, including quarterback training on the side but continued to work out and stay strong.

While Hawley was in Colorado, he missed being on a team and was ready to start school to be challenged again. Hawley got connected with Iowa State basketball coaches T.J. Otzelberger and Kyle Green. They were looking for exactly the kind of guy Hawley wanted to be.

Conrad Hawley celebrates with his teammates during a timeout against K-State on Jan. 24. (Owen Aanestad)
Conrad Hawley flexes his muscles on the bench against New Hampshire at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 31, 2023.

In June 2022, Hawley started his journey with the Iowa State men’s basketball team.

“It was fun to play basketball again because I hadn’t played in three years at that point,” Hawley said. “It was just good being around older guys, being around fast guys, physical guys, smart guys, good dudes and our program has a ton of low ego guys.”

Even as a walk-on, this didn’t stop him from being a leader and owning his role. He quickly acquired the name “Chief Energy Officer” and “CEO” for short.

Some of Hawley’s favorite moments were when Hason Ward threw down a dunk or when his teammates got ready to play lockdown defense. Many wonder how Hawley always has this positive, energy-giver attitude. Hawley strives to never have a bad day and live with gratitude and purpose no matter what he does.

“When you come from a place of thankfulness, it takes you away from all the bad thoughts or negatives that you may be thinking,” Hawley said. “You have to live a purposeful life and so I’ve just developed a purpose and a thankfulness that I think of most days and especially on the hard days.”

After Hawley’s first season with the Cyclones, he used his platform to help others and speak to students.

In early 2023, Hawley was able to sell t-shirts through Cyclone Fanatic. Hawley said he was not in it for money, he just wanted to help those around him. He decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to True Impact Outdoors.

True Impact Outdoors is an organization that helps disabled veterans become active in outdoor activities again, including hunting therapy. These outdoor activities allow veterans to take a break from life’s day-to-day challenges and engage in the outdoors. These activities provide many mental health benefits, such as stress reduction and fostering mindfulness.

“I have a special place in my heart for veterans, especially with family members being in the military,” Hawley said.

Conrad Hawley flexes his muscles on the bench against New Hampshire at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 31, 2023. (Tyler Coe)
Conrad Hawley high-fives Iowa State fans after Iowa State completes the 14 point comeback against BYU on Mar. 6, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

Throughout Hawley’s time at Iowa State, he had the opportunity to be a part of Champions for Literacy along with his teammate Tamin Lipsey and assistant basketball coach Nate Schmidt.

The program combines sports and reading with an emphasis on reaching underprivileged kids. Hawley, Lipsey and Schmidt had the opportunity to drive to Des Moines, Iowa, to read to kids at an elementary school and help ignite a passion for sports and reading.

Hawley and the whole basketball team have been able to help at multiple youth camps this past year.

“We’re able to split up all the baskets with a couple of players and then we just rotate the kids so each kid gets to experience all the guys,” Hawley said. “I think it’s also really cool for guys and myself to be able to do that because it allows you to be a little kid again.”

Hawley and his teammates, Keshon Gilbert and Hason Ward, continued these relationships beyond the basketball camps. They went to an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) retreat and hung out with the kids who were at past camps.

Throughout the past year, Hawley has been able to tell his story and speak to students. Hawley had always been the pre-game speech kind of guy, so speaking in front of students came naturally to him.

His first group of students was the Gilbert High School football team in the spring of 2023. Hawley has spoken to Ames High School baseball, at different basketball camps and he went back to his high school, Raymore-Peculiar, to speak to the football and basketball team.

Hawley spoke to the students about being a good teammate, owning your role, being accountable and motivating them to play their sport.

He was especially excited to speak at his high school. He knew many of the athletes because they were his brother’s age.

Martin said he felt Hawley’s talk made a difference for many kids. He said one of his biggest takeaways was “Just really embracing your role, whatever it is and being all in and kind of going for it.”

“Start your day out with a few wins,” Hawley said to the Ames baseball team. “You woke up, boom, win number one. You went to the bathroom, brush your teeth. Boom, two more wins right there, you’re 3-0. You gotta lose three more times before you go .500 and .500 teams make the playoffs. How bout that? So freaking wake up. Win your day, live for other people, and own your role no matter what your role is.”

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  • B

    Betty L Anfinson | Mar 9, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    You are a prime example of sharing so many positive things with everyone around you. Your caring of young and old alike is so commendable. Thank you for giving of your time in a world of where “taking care of me” is the main thought in most people’s lives. God sent you to the right place to enjoy your sports and to make sure everyone around you does too. Bless you always.

  • J

    John Henry Waldron | Mar 9, 2024 at 10:11 am

    Congratulations to #23, CEO of the ISU Men’s Bball team, undefeated at home 2023-24!!! Thanks for your incredible support, Conrad.

  • T

    Tim | Mar 8, 2024 at 2:11 pm

    What an inspiring young man! So glad we have him at Iowa State!

  • J

    Jennifer | Mar 7, 2024 at 8:22 pm

    Great article about a great guy!!!