Why I Coach: Zach Hopp, Ole Miss Women's Basketball
Updated: May 11
I coach because it is the passion, love, and mission that God has blessed me with. The game of basketball is my vehicle to minister to others. Basketball is the place where I get to see others become all that God has created them to be. From an early age, I have had a love for the game of basketball. I grew up in western Kansas and am a strong Jayhawk fan. I can remember vividly going to games with my grandma and keeping stats. It has always been my passion and love. In high school, I was a strong long-distance runner and thought that was what I would do in college. But God had other plans.
After three straight tibia fractures, I was left with a choice to take a chance on myself or attend the University of Kansas. I can remember praying about this decision, and the second day receiving an email saying I had received the Pell Grant for the University of Kansas. This made my decision a little easier. It was during my years in college that my faith and understanding of Jesus really took off due to a campus ministry. I was beginning to realize that there is no sacred or secular divide and that Jesus truly wants a connected relationship with each of us. I came into college unsure of what I wanted to do and who I really was. I left rooted and fired up.
I first discovered my love for coaching in 2018 and 2019. It was my first year being a student manager for the women’s basketball team at the University of Kansas. I was also very blessed to travel to the NABC men’s Final Four convention, an Athletes in Action trip to Israel as an assistant coach, and coach in The Basketball Tournament (TBT). It was during these moments around strong Christian men, incredible athletes, and special organizations that I found what I wanted to do. I have never seen coaching as a job. The opportunity to serve and shape future leaders, husbands, and wives is very special. Every day in basketball, I’m given the opportunity to prepare them to be champions in every area of life. I don’t ever want to take that lightly. God calls us to use every sphere of life to influence it in his name. I am so grateful and humbled that basketball is the one for me. The relationships and special memories are what keep you going and stay with you, not the championships and rings.
I think it is very interesting that when Dr. James Naismith originally created the game of basketball at the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), it was so others could meet their master. I hope that throughout my career that I am not remembered as a basketball coach but as a disciple sharing the love and hope that has forever changed my life. It is crazy looking back now on my journey only at 24 years of age. I can clearly see how God was in the midst of all these moments throughout my life to lead me back to my calling and first love.
Are you seeking to use the vehicle of sport as a platform to share your faith, as Zach has? The USG Academy is an opportunity for you to learn how to have a successful career in sports while walking out your calling as a follower of Christ.
Get connected to USG, or apply to the Academy with the link here.