Hoppy Hopkins had a caring for Hoopeston sports that went far beyond that of a fan. If a kid needed a pair of shoes, shorts, or a practice shirt, Hoppy would purchase the items so a kid could feel like part of the team instead of an outcast. All a coach needed to do was let Hoppy know and it was taken care of.
Brian Hodge, grandson of Hoppy, first recalls going to games with his grandfather in the fall of 1976. He was seven years old and Brian cannot recall Hoppy missing any varsity football games up until his death in 2002.
Hoppy wanted to see Hoopeston win at everything, but most importantly he wanted the kids to play as hard as they could.
Hoppy worked the pass gate for many years at the Rossville Holiday Tournament and at the Cornjerker Classic Tournament. He was involved with the football chain gang for many years beginning in the 1970’s and continuing through 1995.
He enjoyed watching kids play no matter what their ability, but he especially enjoyed giving the referees and coaches a hard time about something.
After Hoppy’s death, his grandson Brian was getting ready to announce the string line ups for the first game of the Cornjerker Classic, when Bob Clifford, an official from Westville, came up to Brian. He looked at where Hoppy used to sit and said, “This gym will never be the same.” That was the perfect way to sum up Hoppy’s impact on Hoopeston Athletics.
Hoppy wasn’t always good at sharing his feelings, but Brian knows nothing made Hoppy more proud than the opportunity to watch the 1984, 1985 and the 1986 Boys Basketball Team compete in the State Tournament at the Assembly Hall.
Accepting Hoppy’s induction into the Hoopeston Hall of Fame is Hoppy’s grandson, Brian, his wife Carol, Hoppy’s great grandchildren, and his great-great grandchildren.