Senior walk-on brings team drive, passion

Even before she had heard of John Brown University, Brittany Hopper knew she wanted to play college basketball. However, the only way she would be able to fulfill her passion would be as a walk-on player.

Talking about the role of a walk-on, women’s basketball head coach Jeff Soderquist said that, “It’s a hard job because we say there is probably not going to be any playing time.”

Hopper admits it was hard to sit on the bench, and at times she did not feel like being on the team was worth all of the work and difficulties she experienced, but she is glad she didn’t quit.

“She didn’t see the court for three years, but you wouldn’t know that from how hard she works in practices,” said teammate and fellow senior Chelsea Garrison.

Hopper said her hard work paid of in the end, not only in her personal experiences, but also in playing time.

Garrison said she noticed right away during freshman year that Hopper was a passionate hard-worker on and off the court.

Hopper started JBU as an education major and had multiple classes with Garrison, who recognized how hard Hopper worked to keep up with the demands of being a student-athlete.

“Whatever she does, she gives it her all,” said Garrison.

Not only has Hopper has become a leader on the women’s basketball team because of her determination, but also because of the encouragement she gives to others.

“She sparks the energy of everyone else on the team,” said freshman Lauren Rogers.

Rogers said Hopper pushes others on the team to work hard because of the example that she sets.

Garrison and Rogers both said Hopper is the most encouraging person on the women’s basketball team.

“If anyone is having a bad day, Brittany is the one to make them smile,” said Garrison, “she knows how to make my day.”

Now a senior business administration major, Hopper is involved in other aspects of campus life as well.

She has been part of the annual talent show, has played drums in the chapel band, participated in Mock Rock, is very involved with her residence hall and is competing for the Governor’s Cup with her fellow business students.

Soderquist said that he feels it is important for people to “buy into” something bigger than themselves, and that Hopper has done that.

“I think in this day and age you don’t see enough people stick with it and Brittany has,” said Soderquist. “Whether she played or not she was involved.”

This year Hopper’s hard work and determination have paid off in visible ways as she has had more time on the court than in the past.

Soderquist said Hopper has earned her time on the court with her “hustle,” her aggressive playing style, and her experience as a Lady Golden Eagle.

“I know I’m not the best basketball player on the team, but I still play an important role,” said Hopper.

Hopper hopes to find a job in the Northwest Arkansas area and to possibly become the team’s chaplain.

“I’m just trying to stay open to what God wants me to do,” said Hopper.

She and Garrison both said they cannot imagine their college experience without playing basketball.

“We’re the seniors that don’t ever want to leave,” said Hopper.