Q&A with All-American Jon Hopkins
At 6-2, 200, Jon Hopkins is hardly a prototypical collegiate two-meter player. But giving away inches and pounds to the behemoths defending the front of the goal has not stopped the
Q-Has the reality of your senior season coming to an end hit home yet?
HOPKINS-Not really. The other day I did find myself thinking that there are just a few games left before post-season and the playoffs begin.
My collegiate career may be coming to an end, but I plan to continue playing at the club level so it won’t be an absolute finish. But no, it hasn’t hit me yet.
Q-Last year, you were one of a group of seniors who redshirted to focus on the 2005 season. Was that worth it?
HOPKINS-Yeah. I feel like everything’s coming together at the right time. I feel real good physically. The year off helped get me in much better shape and I think it shows in my game.
Q-What have been the highlights of your career at UCSD?
UCSD has been such a good experience overall. I would never go back and change that decision. I think the highlight of my playing career here is still to come.
Q-What would you like your legacy to be with UCSD water polo?
Q-Your brother, Thomas, plays at Stanford. What are the games like when UCSD and Stanford hook up? Is it something the two of you discuss?
We don’t really talk about water polo at all when we get together—at least nothing in depth. It’s a chance to talk about other things.
I think my parents are more into water polo than my brother or myself. My sister, Elizabeth, plays college water polo too so they’re really into it. My mother is always on the different websites and telling me everything that’s being said about UCSD. I try to block her out—I don’t want to hear it.
I think my parents are pulling for UCSD to win it all this year because Stanford won my sophomore year.
Q-You played tennis in high school with your brother at a very high level. What was that like?
HOPKINS-Well, my dad is the head tennis pro in
We finally decided to try it and my junior year finished second in the CIF doubles championship. We won it the next year.
Q-Water polo and tennis seem like an odd combination of sports. Are there any carryover skills?
Some of the team sports, like soccer, helped when I started playing water polo. Seeing the different areas and knowing how and where to move are kind of the same. As far as tennis and water polo, I think the hand-eye coordination is the same and playing tennis helps my water polo in that respect.
I also swam growing up which is how I got into water polo.
Q-What was life like growing up on
I was kind of sheltered but didn’t realize it until I went to college.
I was fortunate that I picked the right sport for where I lived. The
The size was also great because we were able to play all sports. I might not have had that opportunity at a bigger school.
Q-How have you grown in your time at UCSD?
Personally, I feel I’ve matured a lot and become more independent, although I still have no idea what I’m going to do when I graduate.
Q-Is there anything you would change about your five years at UCSD?
I would also have started lifting harder sooner. This last year has really been helpful.
Q-What distinguishes the UCSD water polo program from others?
HOPKINS-One thing, obviously, is that we don’t have scholarships but we’re still able to compete with the best teams in the nation. One of the benefits of not having scholarships is that there’s no team infighting about who’s getting what. I think it makes us closer and stronger.
Q-Talk about your coach, Denny Harper. How would you describe his coaching style? His relationship with his players?
He’s an excellent coach. He always knows exactly where we are as a team emotionally. He has a good sense of the team and that helps a lot.
He definitely makes it fun. It’s tough but I think all of our players really enjoy playing.
Q-Who is the most underrated player on this year’s team?
He doesn’t have some of the flashy offensive stats that get noticed, but he really is the defensive stopper for us.
Q-There are 12 seniors on this year’s team. What does that mean for 2006?
Q-You have no idea at all about what you’re going to do after you’re finished with school?
Q-Do you plan to stay in the
Q-What will you remember most about your senior teammates?
HOPKINS-Probably the time away from the pool—just hanging around. I think that will stand out more than any game or practice. The weekends, the time between hell week practices—nothing big, just talking and passing the time.
Q-What’s your vision for the end of the season?
The WWPA champion will be likely be seeded No. 3 at the NCAA Championship, which is at Bucknell in
We’ve got the skill, experience and it will come down to who brings their best game that day. Our odds of winning would be as good as anybody’s.
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