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Hopkins takes charge of Spartan volleyball

August 14, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

When the Central Union High School volleyball team begins practice at 8 a.m. Thursday, a Brawley Wildcat will be in charge.

In this most interesting of coincidences, the Spartans' new volleyball coach, Beth Hopkins, is a 1992 graduate of Brawley Union High. Don't, however, think that means her loyalties still lie in the Northend.

"I've lived in Arizona for the past eight years, so there's a lot of distance between the time I was at Brawley High and now," Hopkins said. "I'm sure I'll be given a hard time, but it's been a long time since I was a Brawley Wildcat, so I'm not too stressed."

Hopkins, 26, recently learned she would get the opportunity to take over a Spartan program that has been in decline since winning the Imperial Valley League title in 1997. She is not about to back away from the challenge.

"For me it's more of a challenge to know they've had a bad run of things," she said. "I know they have a tradition and I feel that I know what it takes to be on a winning team. My goal is for them to play as well as they can every single game."


Hopkins got her start playing volleyball at Brawley High, where she was on varsity for three years. After graduation she went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Although she was not on the school's volleyball team, she did keep playing in the school's intramural league.

"I just love the sport," Hopkins added. "I've been consistently playing since sixth grade."

Hopkins, who teaches at Seeley Elementary School, has kept herself involved in volleyball by helping coach the Imperial Valley Volleyball Club team. When she was offered the chance to coach the Spartan squad, she jumped at it.

"I think this is the perfect opportunity for me," she said. "I love working with the kids."

While Hopkins doesn't have a lot of coaching experience, she does hold an ace in the hole. Her sister, Trisha, played volleyball at Duke and spent time as a coach in the Blue Devils program.

"I know that I can get a lot of help in different places," Hopkins said. "I know I won't know everything, but I can help these girls."

Another challenge for Hopkins will be getting to know her team. She has not had the chance to meet most of her players yet. In fact, she will not come face-to-face with any of her players until the first practice Thursday.

"I know a few of them from club volleyball, but not really on a coaching level," she added. "I think it's kind of a positive. I can go in there and pick the strongest team for Central this year.

"With me everybody has a shot at starting. No varsity team has been selected. Hopefully the girls will work harder."

Her main goal at Central is to help the volleyball program regain some of the luster it lost in the past few seasons. Hopkins is not looking to make a quick stop with the Spartans. She intends to build something worthwhile.

"I really want to build something," she said. "My main goal this year is to put pride back in the volleyball program. I want to get people excited about Central volleyball."

Central athletic director Steve Evangelist thinks Hopkins should have no trouble achieving her goals.

"I think she's ready for the position," he said. "She seems well-organized and she's got a lot of energy. We're excited about having her."

Hopkins added, "I just want to try to get some respect back in the program. I want the girls to feel positive about their season and for them to have the feeling we improved so they'll look forward to years to come.

"I want it to be a good time. I'm looking forward to it. I just want to stay out of the negative aspects of the game and just stay positive."

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