Emily Gibson | @egibson32
When you search “Mary Hopkins + lacrosse + Florida” in Google, you get about 7, 700 hits.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s volunteered with US Lacrosse for that many hours,” said Beth Porreca, director of special events at US Lacrosse.
Back in 2003, the lacrosse world acquired a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer in Mary Hopkins. When her daughters first picked up sticks, Hopkins was eager to get involved despite having never played the sport. For most people, that might mean helping out as a team manager or attending practices and games. For Hopkins, it meant joining the board of directors of the Orlando Chapter of US Lacrosse organizing free clinics for youth players.
Two long-time U.S. World Cup players and coaches provided the spark.
“I was very inspired, years ago, by Jess Wilk Strosberg and Sue Heether [to give back to and grow the sport],” Hopkins said. “While we were trying to develop lacrosse in Florida, they bent over backwards to help me in any way they could. I saw their love of the sport literally coming out of every single pore on their body. I thought, ‘Wow, if we get Florida on the lacrosse map, how can I not give back when so much was given?’”
Of course, it didn’t end with the chapter board or free clinics.
No stranger to upcoming events like the US Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament, presented by the Heather Leigh Albert Foundation and Harrow, and the US Lacrosse U15 National Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, Hopkins has been the go-to person for anything lacrosse-related in the Sunshine State over the past decade.
“Last summer she recruited, organized, scheduled, trained and coordinated more than 200 volunteers for four events over a 10-day span at ESPN Wide World of Sports in the Orlando area,” Porreca said. “They showed up on time and she took care of them on site. She was at the event sunup to sundown and never blinked once. Mary always had a smile, was genuinely engaged with everyone she dealt with and was a true ambassador for her chapter, her region and lacrosse.”
Aside from events, Hopkins also has served as the Orlando US Lacrosse All-American Chair, a 2012 U.S. U19 women’s national team selector, on the US Lacrosse Women’s Game Committee (currently as the executive secretary), on its coaches subcommittee and the former youth committee. She is a former US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program (CEP) trainer and was part of the Goalie Task Force that helped develop a more detailed coaching plan for goalies as part of the CEP clinic curriculum.
Hopkins coaches for West Orange (Fla.) High, the LaxManiax and The Orange Crush club teams, and serves on the Florida High School Athletic Association Lacrosse Coaches Council.
“I don’t know how she does it,” Porreca said. “As long as Mary Hopkins wants to volunteer with US Lacrosse, we are thrilled to have her. We’re lucky to have several volunteers across the country like Mary, but with the U15 National Championships, the Team USA Champion Challenge event and Champion All-American Showcase events we’ve had for the past several years at Disney, we truly could not have had the seamless execution without her.”
Hopkins believes in lacrosse’s life skill-building potential.
“I’ve watched young girls grow into strong women of character,” Hopkins said. “I see what this sport can do to develop wonderful future community leaders, and I take pride in how many of my past players have become coaches and officials themselves.”
Want an up-close view of lacrosse action? Volunteer at a US lacrosse tournament or event near you. Visit the page below for a schedule of events, benefits of volunteering, and to register.