Trojans Coach Bob Hopkins, who gained a historic 500th career win in girls basketball in January, could be retiring from his teaching post after this year.
But the coach will still be making the scoreboard tick upward for his players at Pahrump Valley High School.
Hopkins said he was “pretty sure,” though nothing was definite, that this is his last year teaching at the school. That choice, however, won’t keep him off the court.
Hopkins said he will continue coaching despite any other decision to keep working as an educator.
The coach currently teaches physical education classes at Pahrump Valley High School – coaching girls and boys golf, along with girls basketball.
This is Hopkins’ second season back at the high school after taking a break for several years, from 2009 to 2015 — returning in the 2016-2017 school year.
Hopkins started his time at Pahrump’s high school in 1990—leaving for a four-year period in the ‘90s during that span to return to his home state of South Dakota. That’s where the coach got his start in 1978 for Bennett County High School.
The coach has spent more than 25 years leading girls basketball teams since he began in the field in the late 1970s. Hopkins is in his 26th year as a head coach and had his first win on Sept. 14, 1978.
Champions in arms
Hopkins said he can’t do everything alone.
“Anybody that says you don’t have to have good kids to win is crazy,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of good players.”
This season’s team is no exception, according to the coach.
“We kind of struggle offensively, but defensively they play hard,” Hopkins said. “That’s what keeps us in most of the basketball games, the defense.”
The team took the coach to his historic total on Jan. 8 at a home game against Boulder City — taking the win 26-24.
Coach Hopkins has taken several teams to championships in Pahrump and in Bennett County.
Locally, Hopkins led the Trojans to back-to-back Nevada state championships in 2004 and 2005, when Pahrump was a Class 3A school.
He also has a good coaching crew behind him, Hopkins said.
Lance England, who assisted Hopkins for about six to seven years coaching, including during the championship years of 2004 and 2005, is once again by Hopkins’ side.
Also, Brittany Wagner (maiden name Orr) and Sarah Coleman, who both played on the team that brought the Trojans to victory during that era, are also coaching with Hopkins.
“They knew what it took to get to the top, and so it’s nice to have those girls on my staff because they’ve been there,” Hopkins said. “They can instill what they did before, and the kids believe it.”
Path to 500
The wins have stacked up over the years for Hopkins, who graduated from college in 1973 from Black Hills State University, with a focus on P.E. and history.
At the time, his schooling didn’t land him a job coaching or anything in education. But the tide eventually shifted.
“I started my own business and ended up coaching about five games in a nearby town that I had my business,” he said. “I really fell in love with doing that.”
Hopkins returned to school to get an industrial arts degree. He landed his first job in Bennett County in 1975 — making his way to coaching the girls basketball team after a few years. He eventually made it to Nevada in the ‘90s.
Hopkins said he’s been paid compliments over the years but believes he lifts his kids up.
“I have people tell me that I’m a great X’s and O’s coach,” he said. “I don’t know if I am that or not, but what I do think I do is inspire kids to believe they can do more than they ever dreamed they could.”
A dream came true on Jan. 8 when he took his 286th career win in Pahrump. With 214 wins in South Dakota, that brought Hopkins to 500 games won in his career.
Hopkins said he tried to take the pressure off the team that wanted to win the 500th game at home.
“I told them before they came out that this has to be just another basketball game for you; 500 wins is going to come for you. Hopefully, it comes tonight for you,” he said.
Looking back, Hopkins wondered where he might have landed if he had not taken so many years off, though the breaks were good for him, he said.
Hopkins said he was able to spend more time at home during the holidays in that period.
When you’re coaching, if you’re going to be good, your family has to give some things up, he said.
The road ahead
Going forward, Hopkins sees his leaving teaching as a positive, as he’ll be able to put all his attention to his coaching.
Hopkins was thankful for all the congratulations on his 500 wins.
“It’s been a blast is all I can tell you,” the coach said.
Area resident Glenda Stiles congratulated the coach in a Facebook post following the game.
The Pahrump Valley Times contacted Stiles, who was coached by Hopkins for two seasons in the 1990s.
“His love and passion for the game shines through,” Stiles said. “He believed in me more than I did myself. He taught me commitment, team player, dedication and to believe in myself.”
Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes