“It is really exciting to have a new chapter in life, but also to be able to coach,” Hopkins said. “Basketball is my passion and I am excited about having a child, but to have him growing up in a gym is a great thing. Having him around these wonderful girls and these wonderful coaches I coach with, I am excited going into the season.”
Hopkins left her team in good hands during her leave. Assistant basketball coach Heather McMorris has conducted practices and has the Lady Lions ready for the season.
“I am really thankful for Coach McMorris, because she has stepped in for me during my maternity leave,” Hopkins said. “She has really helped out with running practices and keeping our system going, so that the girls are prepared for next week.”
Hopkins is excited about the returning players off last season’s team that lost in the Class 4A Sub-Regional tournament.
“We have pretty much everybody back and I am excited about the speed that we have,” Hopkins said. “We really anticipate a lot of games will be up-tempo and hopefully we will be fun to watch. We are going to be very strong defensively and probably score a lot of points in transition. I think we will be an interesting team to watch. We have four games next week and I haven’t been here for a couple of weeks because of the baby, so I am interested to see how we respond to a tough challenge for our first week of the season.”
Munford’s leading scorer Ra’Aunna Caldwell returns for her senior season. The 5-foot-2 guard averaged 16 points per game last season. Backcourt mates Kedra Curtis and Kierra Groce return to the Lions this season. Groce transferred back to Munford this season after going to Lincoln last season. While in the lineup, Groce averaged 20 points per game.
“Ra’Aunna is solid all-around,” Hopkins said. “She has a great attitude, she works hard and I know that we can count on her for points, but we are also going to be leaning really hard on Kierra Groce who has come back. She is going to give us points as well in transition and off rebounding. Kedra Curtis’ 3-pointer has gotten so much better, so we are really looking forward to all the aspects of the game that we have.”
Caldwell has high expectations for her final season at Munford. The senior said that her game improved this summer and hopefully that will make her teammates better and help them reach their goal of playing at JSU.
“We have the same goals from last year,” Caldwell said. “The goal was for us to make an appearance at JSU. Last year, we got knocked out. This year, we have Kierra Groce back. Hopefully, we can get together and pull through and get a win.”
Caldwell said that it has been different not having Coach Hopkins at practice the last few weeks.
“Practice has been going good, but it is kind of different since Coach Hop hasn’t been there,” Caldwell said. “We miss her. Practice is fun, but it is not the same without Coach Hop because we are used to seeing see her face and her yelling, then we all have a good time. Hopefully, when she gets back everybody will get pumped up and ready to play.”
The Lady Lions open the season Tuesday at Saks at 6 p.m.