Article reposted from Sturgis Journal
Author: Brandon Watson
Ashley Hopkins has the tough task of filling the shoes of Jim “Doc” Lioy at Sturgis High School.
Hopkins, 23, is the new head athletic trainer for Sturgis, taking over after Lioy’s retirement this past school year. She is no stranger to the program, having been Lioy’s assistant for two years and soaking up all the information and knowledge she could.
She said while many know of the great program Sturgis has for athletic training, she’s planning to reach even more people.
“I’m hoping we can spread the word more about what athletic training is, get more students involved,” she said. “We are getting there. This is going to be a transition but we’re hoping to make it a smooth one.”
Hopkins is originally from San Diego, her father is retired from the United State Navy and was able to spark her interest in the medical field as he was a medic in the service. She said her family moved to Portage her senior year of high school, where she graduated as a member of the Mustangs.
Learning from her father’s work, as much as she could, drove Hopkins.
“My dad sparked my interest in the medical field, I can remember him bringing a big dummy home one day,” she said. “I thought it was a dead guy, but he was able to show me a lot and I learned from him.”
Lioy ran the athletic training at Sturgis and also taught during his tenure. Hopkins said she will primarily deal with just the athletic training side while J.B. Starkey will do the teaching. Lioy’s shoes are certainly a lot to fill, and Hopkins said she’s not trying to make people forget he was here, but continue the legacy of the Sturgis program.
The excellence of Lioy is something she aspires to meet and work toward.
“I feel like I have to live up to his legacy a bit,” she said. “He definitely paved the way for this program and did all the hard work in getting it started. I learned a lot from him in regards to knowledge of what needs to be done and how to take care of an athlete.”
Once again, the Sturgis program will have double-digit athletic training students. Routinely, many of those students are already involved in sports, but the participation is still strong.
Those trainers will learn skills necessary to be in the program and contribute. Hopkins said they will be setting up meetings with the athletic training staff so everyone has a chance to meet each other. She said being available for questions some of the students might have is also important.
The key, she added, for prospective athletic training students and those already in the program is time management. It’s essentially a job that can often times require a lot of time in the training room, out at practices and helping out at games.
That can be a good problem to work around, especially with many students eager to help.
“This high school is very blessed with this program, the athletic training program here is great,” she said. “I’ve never been to a high school that has something this nice. We’re definitely trying to live up to the expectations (Lioy created), but we’re always trying to continue to grow as well.”
There will be no assistant this year for Hopkins, much like she was under Lioy. That won’t be a problem for Hopkins and her athletic trainers, who are eager to continue the work in the fall sports season, which is now well underway.
Hopkins said she wants to continue to impact the youth and find a way to spark something in them.
“We try to get them involved in knowing there are many paths in life that you can encounter,” she said. “We just want to plant the seed; you always have to look to make a connection with your students.”
Working with coaches can be a handful at times as well, but Hopkins said all of the Sturgis coaches have been nothing but positive.
Most coaches had a working, fluid relationship with Lioy and now that he has retired, Hopkins will find a way to fill the void.
She’s just fine with the potential pressure because she’s just doing her job and making an impact.
“I’m still going to have to earn the respect of people, but I’ve been here for two years and I think that will help,” she said. “I’m not expecting anything to be given to me.”
Hopkins and her husband Phillip, who is a full-time firefighter for Sturgis, currently still live in Portage.