For 33 years, Irene Hopkins dedicated herself to the students and athletes at Nimitz High School serving as a teacher and coach at the Aldine ISD school.
She started the softball program at the school and served as its only head coach until her retirement in December of 2011. She was one of the most respected softball coaches in the Houston-area during her tenure and cherished teaching the sport she loved to the many players that passed through the program over the last 33 years.
Although she is no longer a part of the program, her name will forever be linked to the softball program at Nimitz High School and in the district as well thanks to action taken by the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees at their July 17 Board meeting.
On that night, Aldines Trustees unanimously voted to rename the softball field at Nimitz High School after Irene Hopkins and in addition, the districts annual Varsity Invitational Softball Tournament will also bear her name beginning with the 2013 event.
Hopkins, who served as a teacher and coach for 43 years in Aldine, began her teaching/coaching career in 1969 at Aldine Junior High (now Aldine Middle School). She transferred to Nimitz High School in 1978 and was part of the original staff that opened the building. When she retired, she was the last original member of the staff that opened the school in 1978.
She was known among her peers as a pioneer and when she retired she was the longest serving coach in the history of Aldine ISD.
Irene not only shared her knowledge of the game with her players, but she also gave of her personnel time and resources to keep the softball field at Nimitz in the best condition possible for her teams to play and practice on. As a matter of fact, she loved coaching so much that for the first seven years of her tenure, she volunteered as the teams coach without pay.
In addition to coaching softball, Irene also coached basketball, track and volleyball and served as a health teacher.
Nimitz High principal Alex Jordan, who worked with Irene for more than 20 years, said she was most deserving of the honor the Aldine Board bestowed upon her during their July meeting.
“I can’t think of a more deserving person for such a wonderful honor,” Jordan said. “It has been a pleasure to be a colleague of Irene for more than 20 years. She embodies all of the characteristics that professional educators should possess.
“Her commitment to excellence, love for students, rigorous standards, patience and support for all will be missed by Nimitz High School and Aldine ISD. Coach Hopkins was a role model for all students. She believed in both processes and people with little tolerance for anyone who failed to work hard each and every day. I am a better man and a better principal for having known her.”
During her 33 years at Nimitz High, many of her former students and players received scholarships and went on to become coaches themselves. Her peers honored her during the 2008-09 school year when they voted her Nimitz Highs Teacher of the Year.
The recommendation to rename the softball field at Nimitz High was made by Trustee Steve Mead, who chairs the Boards school names committee. He was joined on the committee by fellow Trustees Dr. Viola M. Garcia and Rose Avalos.