March 30, 2020 – By NJP
Andrew Hopman is not your ordinary volleyball coach in New Jersey. His success over the past two years has been well documented. There have only been 2 three-peat champions since the NJSIAA started sanctioning the state championships in 1995. Cherry Hill East did it in 1996-1998. And East Brunswick from 1999-2001. Can it happen in 2020? Coach Hopman is committed to giving it his best shot.
Winning breeds more winning. Coach Hopman has done a great job of building his program and interest by Knight athletes continues to be very high. We count 19 club players at various levels that attend OB. Participation is peaking in the sport and especially in Old Bridge after winning back to back state championships.
This years team is expected to be outstanding as well. NJP has them in the top 8 and there is no doubt they will get better and better as the season progresses, if and when that happens. Coach preaches about mental toughness and finding out whatever it takes to shield out the diversity and focus at the goal at hand and what is important. In these uncertain times, it is a lesson for all of us.
Here is our interview with Coach Andrew Hopman…
Hi Coach Hopman. Great to spend some time with you. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I earned my Masters in education at Mary Grove College, my Bachelors at Kean University, and Associates at Middlesex County and High School Diploma at Madison Central Old Bridge NJ. Volleyball was always a hobby of mine as a young adult playing for fun, but never had the opportunity to play for a school.
What motivated you to become a high school volleyball coach?
In 1999, I was an educator in an elementary school for East Brunswick BOE, looking to coach and teach in the High School. When a position in the High School was available, I was told “NO that position is going to a volleyball coach.
We are living in unprecedented times. Do you expect that we will have a season this year, even if it happens in the summer?
I hope that all the high school athletes in every sport, especially the seniors have a chance to enjoy the best year of their high school careers in athletics. They have all worked hard and are deserving of the accolades of competing as a senior athlete.
Can you share some words of encouragement to our NJ players during these difficult times?
Yes, “Motion changes Emotion”. If you are sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself, find a way to serve your community while maintaining social distancing. Mow an elderly couple’s lawn, go for a walk and pick up garbage, find a project to give back to the community that provides you with the opportunity to compete in the first place.
NJP expects Old Bridge to be a Top 10 team once again and battle for top honors in the state. Can you three-peat and which teams do you expect to be your biggest competitors?
Nobody expects more from OBHS Boys Volleyball, then OBHS Boys’ Volleyball! Everybody in the GMC and Central Section is always so good, that is what makes it the toughest Conference and State Section every year. We also look forward to competing against some of the toughest teams in the other sections as well, we know better than to sleep on them! Our plan is to get better every day and prepare for our next match the best that we can.
Tell us about your team this year? Who will be your top players?
We’ve only had 6 or 7 practices so far, but the first thing I noticed is that we have talent at every age level! Our outside hitters Jonny Ortega and Jon Guzman shared time on Varsity last year, both our Middle Blockers Aaron LaPlaca and Zach Cuisinier have multiple years of Varsity experience and they are only juniors, our Setter Nick Schon filled in for last year’s setter from time to time looks extremely impressive! We have a senior Devin Mullins and a sophomore Rob Obdyke competing for the libero position, While senior Josh Blatt, junior Brian Snook and sophomore Pavlo Chernyshov are pushing each other for the opposite position. Other players that are already earning varsity playing time and will compete for a starting position are Evan Formoso DS, Matt Manfredi junior and David Flores sophomore are setters, Jeremy Smith sophomore MB and three talented freshman Pedro Duque, Jacob Krol and Blake Krapf as outside hitters.
How do you motivate your players?
I try to make everything a competition including practice, fund raising, giving back to the community and reward the best competitors.
What word of encouragement or inspiration can you offer current high school level players?
We preach mental toughness, which does not come from a speech or a quote on a shirt, it is something that has to be taught, practiced and continue practicing it every day, just like any other skill.
What are your other hobbies?
I love Mustangs and other Muscle cars! I love to fix them, clean them and drive them like I stole them!
What is the biggest challenge that you have as a high school volleyball coach?
Right now getting back on the court!
What is your favorite volleyball story?
Every story that a player contributes something I did to help them get to the next level playing or not.
Can you share one tip for any current high school player to improve his game?
Forget your feelings, Master your mind!
How would you describe your coaching style?
A little bit learned from every coach I ever met.
What kind of players do best with your coaching style?
Hard working, team first, competitors!
What advice do you have for parents of players on high school teams?
Do not offer your children any advice on how to play, even if you are Russ Rose!
Do you Coach at the club level as well? Which club and level?
Yes, Warren Six Pack 14’s, working for Fred Siegel is awesome. He truly loves the game!
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
Anybody who has played for Old Bridge, extremely rewarding to go watch them at the next level!
Is there a teacher, mentor, coach or someone else who contributed to your success along the way that you would like to highlight?
Some of the Coaches at the college level that always have made time for me and the team are Pedro Trevino NJIT Women’s, Sam Shweisky Princeton Men’s, Jack Wilson Rutgers Newark Men’s and Danny Goncalves NJIT Men’s. I would like to thank my Assistant Coaches from last season for their hard work and dedication. Tom Buoni, Aidan Albrecht and Dan Walsh.