Martin Hopkins’ life tooka turn earlyin the pandemic when his job on the University of Iowa football staff was eliminated.
Hopkins moved to the Boston area and got a job in software sales.
But the South Side native and St. Rita grad has deep roots in the Midwest and a love of coaching.
“Me and my wife [Elizabeth, a Mother McAuley graduate], we always hoped to get back eventually,” Hopkins said.
“Eventually” is now, as Hopkins has been hired to be St. Rita’s football coach when Todd Kuska retires after this season. Kuska is 208-92 in his 25thseason, with 18 IHSAplayoff berths, a Class 7A state title in 2006 and trips to the state finals in 2019 and last season.
“It’s very exciting, just to be ableto come home to my family, to St. Rita — not just St. Rita footballbut the St. Rita family,” Hopkins said.
And it really is family for Hopkins, whose mom Margie works at the school as registrar and receptionist.
He graduated from St. Rita in 2009 after being a member of the 2006 state champion and 2007 Prep Bowl champion teams.
Hopkins moved on to Iowa before an injury ended his playing career and he transitioned to coaching. He worked with special teams, offense and defense during his time with the Hawkeyes, but said, “I’m more experienced on defense.”
When he stepped away from coaching, the idea was that he’d get back to it at some point, and as a head coach.
“I didn’t see it happening this quick,” Hopkins said.
But when Kuska announced he was stepping down after his 25th season, he reached out to see if Hopkins wanted to come home. “I immediately had interest,” Hopkins said.
Now it’s a done deal and Hopkins is making plans to move back to Chicago and start preparing for his new job. He doesn’t want to be a distraction to the current team, which is 3-2.
“I want those guys to focus on … right now,” Hopkins said.
Next year will come soon enough for the Mustangs and their new coach.