Warwick, R.I. – Feb. 4, 2015: Community College of Rhode Island baseball coach Ken Hopkins will receive an Amby Smith Lifetime Achievement Award at the 69th annual Words Unlimited banquet on Sunday, March 1, at the West Valley Inn. Words Unlimited is Rhode Island's organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and publicists.
Hopkins, who has served as head coach of the CCRI baseball team since 2001, became college's baseball coach with the highest winning record when the Knights defeated Roxbury Community College, 11-6, in March 2011. The CCRI graduate has compiling a record of 354-164-2 to date, surpassing his former coach Harold "Whitey" Fell, who led the baseball team from 1966 to 1984, for this distinction.
Hopkins played for Johnston High School, receiving All-Division honors. He competed at CCRI under Fell from 1974-76, serving as the team's starting pitcher and earning an 8-2 record. In 1975, he set a single-season record with a .29 ERA. He transferred to Rhode Island College, garnering a 7-2 record with three saves and a 3.22 ERA in 78-1/3 innings pitched as an Anchorman.
Hopkins began coaching for the Johnston youth leagues in 1970 and coached at several high schools, including Our Lady of Providence, La Salle Academy and Johnston High School. In 1981, at age 27, he returned to CCRI to serve as the Knights pitching coach. Two years later, he took the reins from coach Fell as interim head coach, leading the team to a 20-7 season – the Knights' best record in program history to that point and the college's first national baseball ranking.
Following the breakout season, Hopkins served as head coach of RIC's baseball team, guiding the Anchormen to a 68-62-2 record between 1985 and 1989. In 1986, he also began coaching the RIC women's basketball team. Over the course of 12 seasons, he led the Anchorwomen to a 181-156 record and boasts the all-time wins record for the program.
Hopkins took an 11-year hiatus from coaching baseball, but jumped at the chance to once again lead the CCRI Knights. Since his return in 2001, he has accrued a long list of accolades, including four NJCAA Region XXI (New England) Division II championships and Coach of the Year awards in 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2012. The Knights' 2012 season included a trip to the NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Oklahoma. He has coached some of the nation's top Division I players in the Florida Collegiate Summer League and the New England Collegiate Summer League.
Hopkins' coaching philosophy stresses the importance of success off the field as much as on the field: "Play hard, respect the game and be on time." He has guided numerous athletes to transfer to four-year colleges and play at the professional level, including 2008 CCRI graduate George Tager, who transferred to the University of Maine, continued at the Division 1 level for two more years and now serves on Maine's coaching staff. Tager describes Hopkins as "a great mentor and teacher, not only of the game, but of life lessons as well."
Hopkins has coached and influenced other CCRI graduates who have stayed in the game such as Idris Liasu, assistant coach of the URI baseball team, and Drew Powell, assistant baseball coach and teacher at St. Cloud High School in Florida. Powell, who counts Hopkins as one of the most important figures in his life, recalls that his former coach "always said that the definition of character was how an individual acted when they thought no one was watching." Powell added that he uses this teaching not only with his players on the field but also with his students in the classroom.
CCRI assistant baseball coach and former tri-captain Cody Ortega said he is still learning from the valuable teachings from his coach. "He has taught me to think about my actions, to understand the consequences and how they will affect not only me but everyone around me."
Hopkins continues his journey as the Knights' leader with a positive outlook on the 2015 season, saying this year's team is "one of the finest squads in recent memory."
In addition to coaching at CCRI, Hopkins served as director of athletics for Cranston Public Schools from 1988 to 2001. He has also served as a teacher at Cranston East since 2001. Hopkins resides in Cranston with his wife of 36 years, Mary. He has three children, Ken Jr., Lauren and Katelyn, and three grandchildren, Lily, Johnny and Kenneth John III.
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England's largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in noncredit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.