CLOVER — Driven by the passion instilled by their head coach, Sherer Hopkins, who underwent brain surgery last month, the Clover High School girls’ basketball team is playing with purpose.
The gray T-shirts the Lady Blue Eagle players wore during warmups prior to last Friday’s game with York bore a slogan: “Team Hop.”
It was their way of drawing attention to Hopkins’ health battle, which included a major surgery Dec. 24. Hopkins had a malignant tumor removed and is awaiting chemo and radiation treatment to be done locally.
The family has reported through an online journal at CaringBridge.org that the medical team at the Cancer Center at Duke University is optimistic about Hopkins’ recovery.
According to the site, Sherer was coaching her Lady Blue Eagles basketball team at a Dec. 17 game in Rock Hill, when she experienced an excruciating headache.
Her husband, Mark, took her to the hospital in Rock Hill and they immediately airlifted her to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where she was initially diagnosed with an intracranial hemorrhage. According to the site, the bleed was caused by a malignant tumor.
Meanwhile, the Lady Blue Eagles are fighting on the court.
Kiki Walker, who is filling in as coach and a supporter of Hopkins, said the CHS girls are playing inspired basketball. The team’s record is 10-6, 2-4 in Region 3-AAAA.
Walker said she is in touch with Hopkins.
“She’s in great spirits,” said Walker.
“I give her weekly updates, but it’s like she’s still here; she just isn’t present. We feel her spirit.”
Clover High School athletic director Carroll Hester is not surprised by the outpouring of prayers and concern from the Clover community and beyond.
“It says something about how fortunate we are to live in a community that is so caring and supportive,” he said.
York coach Paula Blackwell, a longtime friend of Hopkins, said she has been deeply moved by the Clover coach’s ordeal.
Blackwell and Hopkins have faced each other for many years as coaches in one of the state’s most intense rivalries.
But their connection goes much deeper.
“We played high school basketball against each other when I was at Broome and Sherer played for Clover,” Blackwell said. “We played college ball against each other when I was at Furman and she played for Francis Marion.”
Team Hop shirts will be in abundance when Clover visits York Feb. 14 for the final regular-season varsity games of the season.
Blackwell said the shirts are being placed on order, with proceeds going to the Hopkins family.
The shirts have “Playing 4 a cure” on the front, with Team Hop Sherer Hopkins lettering on the sleeve.
The cost is $10 and the deadline to place an order is Jan. 29. YCHS cheerleader coach Brandi Alexander is coordinating the shirt sale. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re glad to be part of a fundraiser for a local coach. It is for a great cause,” said Said York post player Carrie Lee Lancaster.
Hopkins’ sister, Jennifer Johnson’s expressions of love and hope through CaringBridge.org reflect the family’s deeply-rooted values and faith.
The following is Johnson’s Jan. 7 message to supporters:
“As always, please continue to pray for Sherer and all of the people that care for her. We are so blessed by each and every one of you
“A friend reminded me today of the following, ‘The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.’”
Concluded Johnson, “It is wonderful to see God’s grace at work.”
Herald staff writer Brett McCormick contributed to this report.