Muhlenberg College announced Kevin Hopkins was chosen as the new head coach for the men’s basketball team in a press conference on Monday, Apr. 10.
Hopkins played in Division III while he attended Amherst College, and standing at 6’10”, he was a dominant and strong center. He helped his team win a total of 111 games, only losing 12 during his time there. He also competed in three Final Four games and reached the National Championship in 2007 and won. Hopkins later became the assistant coach at Amherst in 2011 and helped the team earn another National Championship in 2013.
After playing and coaching for one of the best Division III teams in the country, Hopkins worked in the NBA Developmental League. Now he is joining the Muhlenberg community as the 25th coach in the program’s history, dating back to 1900.
It would not have been possible to find such an experienced coach without the work of the Search Advisory Committee. Three basketball players, JeanLee Baez ’18, Ryan Gaynor ‘20 and Nigel Long ‘18, all aided in the search for the new coach. The committee met for weekly meetings in the Life Sports Center to discuss resumes and go through a rigorous vetting process of over 300 applications. Baez was honored to serve as a member of the search committee, saying ,“My experience on the search committee, I would say, is an experience that I will cherish forever.” Being on the search committee serves a greater purpose than just choosing a coach — it means representing your teammates and guiding the future of the team. Fellow teammate Long expressed this sentiment, “Being on the committee meant representing the players on our men’s basketball team and their opinions as to which values are most important to us as players in a head coach.”
Finding a new coach took serious consideration and examination into every application received, but it came down
to which applicant fits the bill to coach at Muhlenberg. When Hopkins’ application came up, every one on the committee was impressed.
“Just excellence overall. Excellence in his experiences, both as a student-athlete and as a coach, and then excellence in his presentation,” stated Corey Goff, the Athletic Director. Hopkins exuded professionalism, experience and dedication to Division III goals. His maturity in these areas pushed him above all of the other candidates and allowed for him to stand out.
“Throughout this process, I saw a lot of impressive cover letters and resumes, but in my personal opinion, no resume intrigued me more than that of Kevin Hopkins,” said Baez.
Hopkins may be a great basketball player and coach, but he expects more from his athletes. He aims to teach everyday life lessons to athletes and build all around good and strong individuals. It is not only about winning championships, but also who you become along the way. Hopkins aims to teach his athletes how to be “successful on the court, but also in the classroom and in preparing them for the rest of their lives.”
Muhlenberg is eager to welcome such a coach because he fits so well into its core values. President Williams was excited to welcome such a new, well rounded staff member to campus, saying, “We take great pride in our athletic tradition. Our student athletes come to Muhlenberg and report that they have a comprehensive academic and athletic experience.”
Since being hired, Hopkins has met with the men’s basketball team a couple of times, and the team was impressed with their new coach. The team met with him once before he was offered the job and the second time on Sunday, Apr. 9 before the press conference. After meeting Hopkins for the first time, Baez thought he would “be a great leader of men, not only next year but for many years to come as he develops his brand as the head basketball coach at Muhlenberg. ”Coach Hopkins can bring leadership to the team for years to come and can help shape the program for the better through earning championship titles and building character.
As a new coach comes in, it sometimes rocks the boat, but the team has really taken to Hopkins. “In Coach Hopkins, we saw a youthful and wise beyond his years coach who would challenge us on and off the basketball court. I believe he will create success here with our men’s basketball program, as he similarly achieved in his previous coaching stops,” stated Long. The team is open to the change, and other future changes to come with the new coaching style, in hopes it will bring success to Muhlenberg basketball. “We are ready to change the culture of our program, create a family environment and compete with each other like soldiers do for each other when they go to war,” declared Baez.
While the team adjusts to their new coach, Hopkins has also been trying to adjust to the move to Muhlenberg.
Hopkins, regarding his whirlwind and very quick experience from being considered to hired, says, “I jumped right in with both feet and I’m trying to figure out how to swim.” During his first time on campus, he was trying to find any flaws with the campus or people on campus, but he failed to find anyone who had anything bad to say.
“It’s a beautiful campus with tremendous athletic facilities and a place where, if you walk around and talk to people, everyone just seems to love Muhlenberg,” said Hopkins. He is very excited to be a part of such a unique and tight-knit community while also receiving the opportunity to lead a team in a competitive Centennial Conference. Hopkins says of Muhlenberg, “I just thought it was a great match of challenging kids both academically in the classroom and then athletically on the court.”
“I just thought it was a great match of challenging kids both academically in the classroom and then athletically on the court.”
It is clear that the team is headed for success under the leadership of Hopkins, as during his first meeting with the team, he challenged them to become better individuals, students and basketball players. Baez is eager to see what next season will bring, but for now the team must prove to Hopkins they are willing to work for it, “I will just say this, he has demonstrated and made it clear to us what he wants from us, and now it is our turn as players to hold up our side of the bargain. Coach Hopkins has the whole Muhlenberg community excited, so we can’t wait to work with him and play for him.”
The Muhlenberg community is excited to see what the future holds.