He made his name as a wrestler in the red and black, but Ethan Hoppe is making his name as a coach in orange and black.
When Ethan Hoppe mans the sideline as an assistant coach for the Marshall Tigers varsity wrestling squad — he incorporates a lot of what he learned as a Saint in his role as a Tiger.
“I had so many great coaches and teachers to learn from as a Saint James wrestler, learned so many lessons on and off the mat,” said Hoppe.
Hoppe, in a five-year career as a St. James Area Saint went 103-40, putting him at 21st in all-time wins and in the top in winning percentage at .720.
As smoothly as Hoppe was able to make the transition from novice seventh-grade grappler to a top-tier wrestler.
It seems he’s made the transitioning from wrestler to coach even quicker.
In his eighth season as assistant coach at Marshall, Hoppe was named the 2018 MWCA Section 3AA Assistant Coach of the Year, an award voted on by his peers.
The 2018 MWCA Section 3AA Coach of the Year was awarded to Fairmont’s Adam Williamson, who led Fairmont to the Section 3AA Championship.
“I was at first shocked when I found out,” said Hoppe. “But, then I was honored because that award is voted on and recognized by coaches in the conference.
Hoppe and his staff have led the Tigers to an outstanding season, as they finished Section 3AA runner-ups to Fairmont and were crowned Big South West division champs.
The Tigers were bolstered by five state-bound wrestlers Zach Stahl, Hsa Khee Lar, Wyatt Martin, Hsa Law Eh, and Jaiden Bahr
But the road to their stellar 2017-18 season hasn’t always been the smoothest one.
After graduating from St. James, Hoppe attended Minnesota State University where he knew he wanted to teach — inside and outside of a classroom.
He was given a chance his junior year to be a student teacher at Marshall High School, where he was able to help out with a wrestling team headed up by first-year man Justin Bouwman.
“There were some adjustments I had to make coming from a storied, tradition-rich St. James wrestling program to a rebuilding program at Marshall.”
But, Hoppe adopted a lesson he learned from coaches Gene Hildebrandt and Dwight Burman — “find greatness.”
“I learned from them, you have to give every kid a chance or an opportunity and that if you show them you care about their success - you can find talent anywhere.”
In his first year, Marshall only had 17 wrestlers in their program. This past season, the program secured 47 wrestlers.
“The key for us is building a relationship with all of our wrestlers, this is a family and as a coach, you have to be a parent, counselor, and friend on and off the mat.”
While Coach Hoppe may bleed black and orange these days, the visits back to the red and black in Saint James are still special to him.
“Going back and seeing the same faces in the same seats when I wrestled and seeing my family, it’s special each time.”
While Hoppe has entertained the idea of head coaching at other schools, he has stated that he and his family love Marshall and wants to continue to build upon Marshall's strong 2017-18 season.
“I would definitely love to be a head coach of a program someday, but this has become a great place to work and live with my family.”