• 55°

Hopkins takes reins as coach at St. Al

[6/29/04]St. Aloysius has hired Jason Hopkins as its boys soccer coach in the hopes that he will prevent the slow decline of a team that struggled to a 6-11-1 finish last season.

Hopkins, 28, who will replace Carlos Lee, brings seven years of coaching experience, five of which were spent in Division I club soccer, to a team that is made up of mostly underclassmen who have yet to prove themselves.

“From what I’ve gathered, he has a lot of coaching experience,” St. Al principal Peter Pikul said. “He’s coached a lot of our kids before on youth teams and other programs, and we think he’s going to do a very good job.

“He is a good person right now to step in and fill the position, and we hope he will keep the program strong.”

Along with his previous coaching jobs, Hopkins was a top-notch soccer player in high school and college.

After graduating from Warren Central, he attended Meridian Community College, where his team was sixth in the nation among community colleges.

He then went on to William Carey College, where he led his team to a third-place national ranking two years in a row.

When the position opened up, several parents of St. Al players mentioned Hopkins to the administration, and he was selected after interviewing for the job.

“Some parents knew I’d be interested in the job when it became available,” Hopkins said. “The school decided to hire me after I went in and talked to them about it.”

Despite last year’s difficulties, Hopkins doesn’t have any drastic changes planned for the team.

“There will be some rebuilding, but a lot of the guys are already in place,” he said. “I’m going to do the best I can with what I’ve got to work with. They’ve got a ways to go, though.”

Hopkins’ only plan for any change in the program is to hold preseason tryouts to cut his team down to a smaller size. Two tryout sessions have already been held, and he is trying to set a date for a third.

About 27 players have attended the tryout sessions, and he expects to field a team of 22 or 23.

“The best players will be selected and the best players will play,” Hopkins said. “Seniority will not affect anybody’s playing time. The key players will be on the field.”

Hopkins will need those key players on the field for division play this season. Two teams, Madison St. Joe and St. Andrews, were top-12 finishers in the state rankings last season.

“They are in the toughest division in 1A right now,” he said. “Madison and St. Andrew’s will definitely be the biggest obstacles. They will be really tough.”