For his first year as coach of the Muscatine High School (MHS) softball team, Steve Hopkins had an exciting year. Not only did he make it deep into the playoffs with the varsity team, he also made Muscatine Athletic Conference (MAC) Coach of the Year. An honor selected by all of the MAC coaches in a specific sport, this prestigious award marks a fitting end to an important year for Hopkins.
Though Hopkins only started working with the MHS softball team, he has many years of prior experience coaching softball all around Muscatine County. He explained, “I have three daughters in which all three played softball to various degrees. I started out coaching my oldest daughter’s league softball team about twenty years ago. . . . Prior to this year, I was the Head Varsity Coach at Durant High School for the past eleven years. Prior to Durant, I was the coach of Muscatine Maniacs Travel team, in which my middle daughter played on.”
During his many years of coaching, Hopkins developed a real love for what he did, a passion that has become apparent in his work with the Muskies. “I really enjoy working with the kids and watching them grow as softball players and most importantly as young adults. There are a lot of life lessons that can be learned through athletics. At the end of their high school career, I hope that they can look back and say that they can take a few things that they learned from softball and apply it to their life. There is no better reward than that.”
This dedication, and the growth of his players surely helped him gain the respect of his fellow coaches, which in turn led to his becoming MAC Coach of the Year. Hopkins felt deeply flattered that he won the award, but also felt it gave him a time to honor the work of everyone else who collaborated with him and helped make the season a success. “The conference has a lot of great coaches so for them to select me it is a great honor. As the head coach you get the recognition but my open gym and spring team coaches, in season assistant coaches, and the players deserve the credit for the season we had. I am just a small piece of the puzzle.”
As Hopkins celebrates his achievement and looks forward to next year, he encourages others curious about getting into coaching to try it and to truly go all out with it. “ The best advice I can give someone who wants to be a coach is that you have to put your heart and everything you have in to it. You have to be in it for your players and not for yourself. If you expect your players to give you everything they have then you as the coach have to put everything you have in to your players. Your players deserve that.” Hopkins’s dedication shines through each day, and will inspire many more players and future coaches.