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Athlete Spotlight for Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

Posted: January 7, 2015 - 1:20am
Photo by Jim Blaylock  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock

While her dream of playing college basketball essentially came true in November when she signed to play for Emmanuel College next year, Lakeside High School’s Clarissa Hopkins hasn’t let up for a minute.

Hopkins leads the Lady Panthers in points (9.8), rebounds (6.4), assists (2.6), blocks (1.3) and is second with 5.2 steals-per game as the team jumped out to an 8-5 record. Coach Norm Cox thinks her stats are secondary, it’s the other aspects she brings to a young team that are important.

“She’s kind of like a mentor to those girls,” said Cox. “She’s a big sister for them and just a good example to follow in practice. She works hard, she’s got a great attitude all the time. It’s neat to see her kind of take those girls under her wing. She’s done a really great job for us this year.’’

What attracts Hopkins to sports – she also plays volleyball and soccer for the Lady Panthers – is what helps her be the kind of leader that Cox is looking for.

“The thing I like most about sports is you compete and you play good competition to make yourself better and make the people around you better,” said Hopkins, who thinks that playing hard spreads to those around her. “It helps the team. I feel like if I get intense it will get contagious and it will get the team more intense and more willing to play harder to win.”

Basketball wasn’t the first sport she played, but it was the first Hopkins learned to love.

“I started playing soccer when I was little and that was the first sport I played,” she said. “I really liked it but then I started playing basketball and I just fell in love with it instantly. When I got to the high school I started playing volleyball sophomore year and I just kept playing all three sports basicallly to stay in shape for basketball. I love the sport.”

While free time is something she might like to have, all of her exploits led her to where she currently wants to be.

“It’s worth it to have your dream coming true, playing college basketball and going to school for free,” Hopkins said. “It helped my parents out a lot, too.”

While at Emmanuel College, in Franklin Springs, Ga., Hopkins plans to study biology in hopes of becoming a veterinarian, but first she is checking out the profession using her senior project.

“I did animal euthanasia,” Hopkins said. “I did my research already but I have to go and do my job shadow. I figure if I see the worst or the hardest things about the job, I’ll see if I can handle it and if I want that to be my career the rest of my life.”

She knows once that final soccer game is over in the spring, things will never be the same.

“It’s going to be bittersweet because I have to leave my teammates, but I know I have a new team to go to, basically a new family,” she said.

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