After serving two tours in Afghanistan as a soldier in the British Army, Sam Hopwood followed his heart to Scott County.
“I have a heart’s desire to get involved in coaching soccer,” Hopwood said.
Before becoming the boys soccer coach at Scottsburg High School, Hopwood started by coaching at the club soccer level with the Scott County Strikers.
“I was amazed how big high school sports are over here,” Hopwood said.
In Europe, soccer — or football as it is called around the world except for in the United States — starts early in a child’s life and is a traditional sport for people to play, like children in the United States play baseball, basketball, or American football. The professional European football teams have academies, where children ages 6 to 16 are asked to join to continue to grow in their skills and in the sport. The academies are the key in Europe to moving forward to elite at the professional level, whereas, in America, colleges provide athletic scholarships to top high school players and some high school and college level players move forward to professional athletics.
“They will nurture you,” Hopwood said about the European football academies. Hopwood, who grew up on the English and Welsh border near Wales in the United Kingdom, participated in a few European football academies as a child before moving on to playing soccer in college and for the British Army.
“I originally intended to play,” Hopwood said.
Then, Hopwood found a passion in coaching after moving to Scott County to be with his wife and his family after he fulfilled his military contract.
“Coaching — it’s new to me since I came over here. I absolutely love it,” Hopwood said. “The sport is growing at a tremendous rate. The talent is coming through. It’s a very exciting time.”
As the soccer coach at SHS, Hopwood is working to build the program and to teach the students the English way of playing soccer.
“I want to build a stable program,” Hopwood said. “I am implementing life skills.”
Hopwood not only teaches the high school soccer players the importance of passing and moving on the field, but he teaches the young men the value in respect and teamwork. From his military training and years of playing soccer, Hopwood pushes the importance of respect.
“They learn respect right from the start and learn respect for the school they are representing,” Hopwood said.
Teamwork is also important to Hopwood and his team.
“If you don’t have a team, you won’t be successful,” Hopwood said. “I demand 110 percent of the boys at all times.”
Still, Hopwood said there is one thing he cannot teach his team, but he said the students on his team already possess it: heart and determination.
“There’s a lot more than passing and moving,” Hopwood said. “My lads have a lot of heart and determination.”
At Scott County School District 2, Hopwood’s story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.