Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Irving senior middle blocker on a mission
Hopkins hoping to showcase her skills and earn a ticket to college
IRVING — Shanice Hopkins couldn’t run or jump yet. She could only put pressure on her foot, which was in a boot after time spent on crutches.
It was August. The season, her last in high school, was beginning. Volleyball has meant so much to her, the sport going from a pleasant diversion to a near obsession that she would finance on her own, to a vessel that could pay for part or all of college.
Colleges would be watching her performances closely this season, and clearly this wasn’t the way she or anyone would want it to start, with her recovering from a fractured metatarsal.
While the rest of the Irving volleyball team ran a mile on the hardwood gym floor during two-a-days, she walked. But she probably smiled, because she always does.
“The moment you doubt,” she said, weeks later, “that’s when you think you can’t.”
Hopkins, a middle blocker, moved to Irving in seventh grade from Killeen. Before that, she lived in Louisiana, growing up under the watch of her grandparents and sharing space with siblings and cousins.
Christmases were reminders of the tough times. Hopkins never received much, not that she cared. There was always a meal of ham, stuffing, greens and macaroni, and that was a gift.
Her mother and father were never really in the picture. Mom works in the civil service and was recently in Afghanistan. Dad works as an oil driller. He’s in South Korea right now.
When Hopkins moved to Irving, she lived with her great aunt, and she started playing volleyball. She excelled quickly, making varsity as a sophomore. She was the one on the court constantly slapping hands and thanking teammates for passes.
“When she gets the kill, it’s like we all kind of feel like we had the kill,” senior Grace Torbett said, “because her excitement feeds throughout all of us.”
Hopkins says she has always been a self-starter. She never remembers not working hard. When she needed to get somewhere growing up, she would walk rather than ask for a ride.
Beginning then, Hopkins turned that intensity toward volleyball. First, she decided to join a club team. Her mother made the down payment; Hopkins would have to handle the rest. She took a job at McDonald’s, biking there after practices. Now she works at Six Flags so she can afford the nearly $3,000 in dues that club volleyball requires annually.
She has also saved for college. Hopkins said no one on either side of her family has gone to college, and she plans to be the first. The dream is LSU, although interest from schools generally comes only when she initiates contact.
But Hopkins is healthy again, not worried it about, confident the opportunity will come.
“I came a long way,” Hopkins said. “I came a really long way. It’s really not what happens to you. It’s how you handle it. You have to know how to handle situations.”
Position: Middle blocker
Accomplishments: Three-year varsity starter, member of Texas Image volleyball club, averages .77 blocks and 2.92 kills per game.