Tony Hopper has resigned as head boys’ basketball coach at Ohio County High School, the longtime area coach announced Monday.
Hopper, who took over the Eagles program from former coach Steve Sparks in 2016, said it was simply time to walk away.
“To be honest, after 38 years in this business — and 32 as a head coach — that’s probably enough,” said Hopper, 66.
In five seasons at Ohio County, the Central City native helped guide the Eagles to an 81-63 overall record, with one 10th District Tournament title, four appearances in the 3rd Region Tournament and two trips to the region semifinals. In 2019-20, Ohio County compiled the region’s best record at 22-8 but fell in the first round of district play.
“I went about my business like I always did, kept my head down and worked extremely hard,” Hopper said of his time in Hartford. “When I walked in five years ago, I was the fourth coach in four years. I felt like I helped stabilize that situation, and I’m hoping people can say Ohio County was better off with me being there those five years.”
And, Hopper added, he made the most of what he had to work with.
“We didn’t have an over-abundance of talent, but we always worked hard and put in our time,” he said. “I had a good coaching staff the last couple of years, too, with Kim Swift and Steve Vaught.”
Hopper joined Ohio County after spending one year at South Warren, where he took over after coaching Muhlenberg County for three seasons.
He previously coached Apollo for six years (2004-2010), which included an appearance in the 2008 KHSAA State Basketball Tournament championship game. Hopper also guided the now-defunct Central City and Muhlenberg North high schools to state tournament appearances — with Central City making it in 1989 and the North Stars reaching the state semifinals in 1994.
Though he isn’t ruling out a return to coaching in the future, Hopper is at peace with where he is in his career — and life.
“I never say never,” he said. “I still feel pretty good and I’ve still got a lot of energy.
“One of the things I got a little dose of a year ago when COVID hit, and our hands were tied and we couldn’t do very much, I got relaxed. It took some stress off of me, and I quit worrying so much. The hard part about being a head coach is the worry is always there.
“I don’t know where I’m at with coaching, but I’ve enjoyed it all for the most part. Losses were always hard for me to take, but those wins — some of them were really great.”