SPORTS HEADLINES

Coach for all seasons; Hopkins leads teams to playoffs in fall, spring

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, July 5, 2014

For Boyd’s Brandon Hopkins there truly is no offseason.

While serving as athletic director at his alma mater, he is the head coach of the Boyd football and softball teams. He also assists the girls basketball team and track squad.

“I do stay busy – but that’s why I do the job. I like to coach kids and help make kids better,” Hopkins said. “Coaching here to me is not a job. It’s part of my life. And I’ve never thought of it as a 9-to-5 job.”

Juggling a Busy Schedule

JUGGLING A BUSY SCHEDULE – Boyd athletic director Brandon Hopkins stayed busy this year coaching the Yellowjacket football team and Lady Yellowjacket softball team to the playoffs. He also served as an assistant for the girls basketball team that made the playoffs. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Hopkins’ tireless work ethic rubbed off on his teams this past year. His Yellowjackets football team took third place in District 5-2A to advance to the playoffs. The Boyd softball team set a school record for wins with 25 and made it into the second round of the playoffs. The Boyd girls basketball team also advanced to the postseason with him on the bench assisting Lynn Cranfill.

For his hard work and success in 2013-14, Hopkins earned the Wise County Coach of the Year honors.

Green and gold are the only school colors Hopkins has ever worn, going all the way through school at Boyd. He earned second team all-state his senior year on the football field, catching 35 passes for 700 yards.

He also excelled on the baseball diamond, earning a chance to pitch at Cooke County College in Gainesville. After a year-and-a-half playing baseball, he finished college at the University of North Texas.

When he graduated, he was quickly hired by his high school coach, J.G. Cartwright. The interview process didn’t take long in 1997.

“I knew everything about him,” Cartwright said in 2012. “I knew he was intelligent and the type of coach he’d develop into.”

Hopkins spent 15 years on the sidelines with Cartwright. He took over as offensive coordinator for the Yellowjackets in 2001 and called plays for Boyd’s state championship team in 2004.

When Cartwright decided to retire in 2012, he recommended Hopkins to replace him. The Boyd school board agreed with the recommendation and hired him as the head football coach and athletic director.

“That meant a lot,” Hopkins said about Cartwright’s blessing. “We were so close, and he knew I’d do a good job.”

Under Hopkins, the Yellowjackets have carried on the same success. Boyd went 7-5 in Hopkins’ first season at the helm, advancing to the area round of the Class 2A Division I playoffs.

In 2013, the Yellowjackets faced a lot of adversity due to injuries.

“We didn’t play one full game with all our starters,” Hopkins said. “We fought the injury bug and concussions. We had our top receiver go down the first game and then lost another top receiver.”

But despite the injuries and an 0-4 start with losses to Gunter, Palmer, Godley and Sanger, the Yellowjackets turned things around in District 5-2A play. Boyd won four of its first five district games to earn a playoff spot.

“The kids overcame a lot,” Hopkins said. “The kids stepped up and made plays. Considering all the injuries, it was a good year.”

Boyd quarterback Clay Barnett credited Hopkins for helping to guide the team to the playoffs.

“He’s a good coach. He’s quiet at times but knows how to get his point across and make people work,” Barnett said.

Van Alstyne made it a brief playoff stay for the Yellowjackets, handing them a 35-8 loss in bi-district. But Hopkins didn’t have long to dwell on the loss. He was helping out the girls basketball team the next day.

It was the first of many days on the court with the Lady Yellowjackets, who made the playoffs.

And as basketball went into February, Hopkins found himself doing double duty, helping with practice in the gym, then heading to the softball field.

He took over the softball program 17 years ago and has taken the Lady Yellowjackets to the playoffs most years. This year, with a roster full of veterans, the team turned in their best season ever, going 25-8 and reaching the area round.

Working with a talented team, Boyd all-state catcher Savannah Foster said the skipper pressed the right buttons.

“He’s a good coach. He doesn’t say much, but if we do something wrong he says what we need to do to fix it,” Foster said. “He definitely wants to see all his athletes do well. You can see he enjoys coaching.”

While balancing all his duties, Boyd athletes never feel Hopkins sells any of them short.

“He does a good job staying on top of everything,” Foster said.

Barnett added: “He handles it all well. He’s always there and focused on what he’s doing.”

As a head coach of boys’ and girls’ sports, Hopkins said he gets an opportunity few athletic directors get.

“It’s an interesting dynamic. There’s not many ADs who switch over and coach two girls sports,” he said. “I have just as much interest in the girls side as the boys side.”

Coaching all the sports means long hours throughout the year, especially in the spring with extra maintenance on the softball field.

Even his summers are full, with workouts and 7-on-7 tournaments

“I take the week of Fourth of July off,” he claims.

“You’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing. I’m not in it for the money. It has to mean a lot to you.”

But he doesn’t claim all the credit for the success of his Boyd teams this past year.

“I have a great family and a wife that helps tremendously,” Hopkins said. “You’ve also got to have good coaches around you. All our coaches do their part.”

One day, Hopkins expects to slow down a bit. But that won’t be anytime soon.

“When you know you can help, why not help?” Hopkins said. “If there’s a need, I’m going to do it.”

That’s the Boyd way – the only way he knows.

“It’s a blue-collar town. It’s not glitz and glamour. It’s all about hard work,” Hopkins said. “We try not to take the easy route. If it’s easy, everyone would do it.”

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