Aaron Hopper building winning culture at Minford
Marietta College graduate guided team to state semis
Aaron Hopper has made a nice transition from a prep and college baseball player to high school head coach.
The former Marietta College and Wheelersburg High baseball standout enjoyed an eventful spring as the Minford Falcons skipper being named both the West Division District III Coach of the Year and Southern Ohio Conference (SOC) II Coach of the Year late last month.
“It’s been a little bit getting used to, going from player to coach,” said the 28-year-old Hopper. “I know my goal’s been to take what I learned from Coach (Brian) Brewer (of Marietta College baseball) and bring it down here to Minford — especially the intensity and mental aspect of the game.”
Hopper helped guide the Minford High baseball program to its first-ever state finals appearance when the Falcons downed the West Lafayette Ridgewood Generals, 4-1, May 25 (also Hopper’s birthday) in an Ohio Division III, Region 11 championship at Bill Davis Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.
On the journey to state, Minford also claimed the SOC II and Division III, Chillicothe I District titles. The league crown was the school’s first outright baseball championship in 50 years. (The Falcons shared the title in 1978.)
But at state at Huntington Park in Columbus, the 11th-ranked Falcons (24-3 overall, 13-1 SOC II) bowed out to the No. 8 Coldwater Cavaliers, 11-0, in the semis. (The Cavs were then defeated by Canfield South Range in the D3 state final.)
Despite falling at state, Hopper is expecting eight starters to return next season. So, the future bodes well for Minford baseball.
In Hopper’s first year at the helm, the Falcons were district runners-up with a 15-10 overall mark. Before that, he was an assistant baseball coach at Minford.
After graduating from Wheelersburg in 2009, Hopper attended Marietta College, where he played baseball for Brewer.
At MC, Hopper was instrumental in helping the Etta Express win two consecutive NCAA Division III championships in 2011 and 2012. The Pioneers, the owners of six national titles, had never repeated before until then.
“What I remember most about winning those national championships are the guys I played with,” Hopper said. “I also remember hitting a home run in the 2012 World Series.”
Before graduating from Marietta in 2013, Hopper earned All-America honors (third team) as a junior outfielder.
The hard-hitting, right-handed batsman is listed second in career doubles with 58 in the Pioneer record book. He was also hit by a pitch a career 35 times, which is also second in the book.
Defensively, Hopper set a single game individual record with 20 putouts as a first baseman when he was a freshman.
Before Hopper’s senior season as Pioneer, he played during the summer for the Chillicothe Paints in the wooden bat Prospect League.
Currently, Hopper, an environmental studies major at MC, is a statistical analyst for Innovative Solutions in Piketon.
“I’m a subtractor,” he said.
Hooper is married to Hanna, who is expecting their first child.