Hopkins aims to develop consistency in Empire

Jun. 27—Coming in as a highly recommended coach, the Empire Bulldogs new baseball lead guy in Bo Hopkins hopes to develop consistency in Empire for the 2023-2024 school year.

Hopkins, who was recently the head coach for the Carney Bulldogs baseball program, has been hired by the Empire Public Schools Board of Education to take over for the 2024 spring season.

Wanting to get back to Southwest Oklahoma, Hopkins said his superintendent at Carney Public Schools came to him and told him Empire Superintendent Justin Smith was looking for a baseball coach.

Hopkins stated the Carney Superintendent had nothing but praise for the Empire district and Smith, so he started the process of going for the Empire baseball job.

"I felt like this is going to be right and I got a chance to talk to Mr. Smith about it, he kind of told me what he expected and what they expect there as a program and I knew that this is going to be really good for my family," Hopkins said. "I think what definitely drew me was just all the hype about how good of people there were at Empire and in the Duncan area where we will live in, so that drew me to it. As far as the program itself, the biggest thing is going in you, of course, have expectations, but I really think the biggest thing is to help be on top again and being successful."

The Bulldogs finished 7-14 on the 2023 campaign and finished in the district title game against Velma-Alma, but the Comets won twice to head on to the Class A Regionals.

Empire Athletic Director Brant Hayes said the enthusiasm shared on the baseball field and the knowledge is what makes Hopkins the right fit for the Bulldogs' baseball program.

"I think Bo will be a great asset to the Bulldog family. He is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the game," Hayes said. "Bo came very highly recommended and we are lucky to have him. Bo had great leadership qualities and that is exactly what we were looking for in our search. Can't wait for him to get moved down here and get started working with our guys."

Hopkins, a Cameron University graduate who worked at Western Oklahoma College in Altus, said his ties in Southwest Oklahoma are deep and believes that is what has helped him become the coach he is today.

Hopkins, who also got to play in the Oklahoma Legion Baseball team called the Southwest Shockers, said being a student assistant at Western Oklahoma College showed him the path to becoming a good coach.

"I was a student assistant for Western Oklahoma State Baseball team in 2012 and I learned more than I could," Hopkins said. "That is where I have to give my credit on how I learned the game of baseball and how things should be done. That is what really did it for me."

Because he is new to Empire, Hopkins got a chance to learn more about the program during the process and believes if he can develop the program and keep the momentum going from the middle school programs, this will help the consistency of the club.

"There is a lot of young coming up and I think that they are continuing to learn. We want to build a culture," Hopkins said. "I have also heard even the younger group, like the middle school and junior high age group, has a lot of good kids that are coming up and have put a lot of time and effort into baseball. If these kids can see the high school team and us be successful and win games (and) things starting to change with the culture, they will buy in."

The spring season for Empire will begin in the spring semester of 2024 and Hopkins is excited to join the community with his family and hopes the support he has already seen will continue to grow.

"I'm excited and I have been excited. Me and my wife, with us having a new one here, we've been excited the whole time," Hopkins said. "People have asked about Empire and they have been nothing but super helpful and supportive and super friendly. That is the biggest thing — to be successful, and hopefully we can come in there and get something done."