In the wake of March’s National Women’s History month, UST women’s basketball player and marketing senior Sheridan Hopkins is making history of her own at the University.
Hopkins scored her 1,000th career point back in December 2018, becoming the second women’s basketball player in UST history to do so. Then, she was named the 2019 Red River Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, the first time in UST history a student, male or female, has received this award.
Hopkins was also selected for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) All-American Team for the second year in a row.
According to Jae Cross, the head coach of UST’s women’s basketball team, Hopkins is the team’s highest scorer and highest rebounder. She averaged 22.8 points per game, which ranks her second nationally, and 11.28 rebounds per game, which ranks her 7th nationally in NAIA Division l women’s basketball.
“She’s second in all-time scoring right now,” Cross said.“ I fully expect her to become the No. 1 all-time career-scoring person here at UST.”
Hopkins said it was a great feeling to win the Player of the Year award, particularly because she had only been focused on doing her best during the season, and winning.
“I never really thought I would make it that far or get those kinds of awards” she said. “I was shocked when I got it.”
Hopkins said she feels very happy and humbled, grateful for the support of her parents, teammates, and Cross.
“My mom and dad have been great,” she said. “They’ve been behind my back 100 percent, and I can’t thank them enough.”
According to Cross, Hopkins’ work ethic sets her apart from her teammates. After her freshman year, Cross said, Hopkins knew she needed to put in more time if she wanted to become a “go-to” player. From workouts at 5 a.m. and extra weight sessions, to making sure she’s eating correctly, those efforts paid off.
“She has an amazing endurance to start a game, finish a game, and play 40 minutes in a game, essentially,” Cross said.
At the same time, she noted, Hopkins is a model team player. “Her work ethic, determination and commitment to getting better every year is something that helps propel others to strive to be better in themselves.”
Hopkins, who is Baptist, said she is very religious. Part of her mental preparation before each game involves praying and talking to God.
During this preparation, she also tells herself, “You can do this,” and thinks about her life leading up to that moment.
“It kind of motivates me,” she said.“It makes me feel like I’m strong because I am where I am.”
Hopkins said she never took basketball seriously until she began to play competitively in the 6th grade, when she realized both how much work it involves, and that she was good at it. Hopkins said she got involved more in the sport as she improved and surpassed her own expectations.
She transferred to UST from Concordia University located in Austin in 2016 after a former UST basketball player recommended the University to her.
“I loved the atmosphere and the culture and that’s why I came, really,” she said.
Although she is a senior student in the classroom, she is still a junior on the court this year with one remaining year of eligibility for playing on the UST team. She was accepted into UST’s MBA program and will be a super senior come fall 2020.
According to Cross, Hopkins is not only a great athlete, but a great student.
“I don’t think she gets enough credit for being the student that she’s been,” Cross said. “Being able to balance both of those, and being essentially the ultimate student-athlete, and being able to get recognition and honors the way that she has as well as keeping her studies in order is something that she should be commended for as well.”
Hopkins says she is not sure what she wants to do with her degree, but that once she graduates she hopes to play professionally overseas.
“I’m going to work everyday if I have to, the hardest that I can,” she said.
Cross said Hopkins may well have a chance, even though she would be competing against other women’s basketball players in a small market after graduation. Cross would know: she coached Rice graduates who are currently playing overseas and has a 13-year career coaching collegiate basketball (five at UST and eight at Rice University).
Meanwhile, Hopkins is still basking in the glow of her Player of the Year award. She said she has a really deep connection to basketball, and that getting awarded for it is really meaningful.
“I just play the game and I really love it,” she said.