Remembering people at their best reflects the best in all of us

Athletic director interviews are on hold
March 20, 2020

Crying on my keyboard - Burli Hopkins, 41, succumbed to addiction early morning March 18 at his home on Dairy Farm Road. Burli’s Boys, his chums from high school, would parachute into a hostile jungle in a foreign land to rescue their mate, but they were unable to save their friend from himself. I am guilty of remembering people at their best, like the time Burli caught a pop pass at Milford and somehow shook loose and rumbled over green grass five yards at a time for a touchdown. Teammates on the sidelines were ecstatic, making diesel horn sounds and cow noises. And once in the spring I was walking north on the Boardwalk near Hickman Street when a remote-controlled car started circling my feet. I kicked it off the Boardwalk and cursed. Burli was on a porch above with some buddies just laughing out of control. “Most people were just freaked and got out of the way until you came along and kicked it onto the beach, cursing the whole time,” Burli said. “What’s up, Fred?” Burli was a person who reached out and helped his buddies when they went off the rails, including my son Tom, who was Burli’s high school quarterback and lacrosse teammate and fellow coach at Atlantic Lacrosse. Recently, I wrote about setting up a king-sized bed, tripping over the bed frame, crashing into the wall and pulling my hamstring. Burli sent me a message and said to call him if I ever needed anything moved, and he’d be there in five minutes. I wrote him back, “You offered to help me anytime – move stuff or whatever – I make the same offer to you – talk stuff or whatever – I think you could benefit from a Fredman sit-down – ain’t a road I ain’t been down and I’m loyal like a lab.” Burli wrote back a lot of personal stuff but ended with, “I appreciate you reaching out, Fred. Means a lot. Nice to know my integrity is still somewhat intact with some people I respect.” Years of Atlantic Lacrosse players loved having Burli Hopkins as their coach and they are all devastated at the news of his passing. This is a story of pain and slippage, the game of life gone sideways, where the truth is unknowable and there are no good players. The Hopkins extended family thanks the greater community of friends for the love they have shown and prayers offered up for Burli and urges everyone to reach out and help others when they see the need. Godspeed, Burli. We miss you.    

Postponed not rescheduled - The interviews with two live athletic director candidates with the Cape Henlopen seven-member school board have been postponed and not rescheduled, which is ironic because the No. 1 job of any high school athletic director is to reschedule postponements, especially in the springtime when 10 sports start up outside. I’m always amazed at the number of adults who apply for an open position of athletic director but have no personal history of actually going to games. Personally, I like a happy AD. Most I’ve encountered in my job are not, just too many finite details to manage and way too many complaints that can’t be deflected to someone else. 

10 for 10 - For one AD vacancy years ago, 10 coach types applied and we all got an interview on the same day and were asked the same 10 questions. I walked into the guidance conference room, looked around at the faces at the table and instinctively knew I was brittle cheese toast that had been left in the cafeteria warmer for too many hours. I wouldn’t play the game, but instead said, “Every coach that interviewed here today would do a great job, but if you want the one with the most different skill set, then pick me. I’m the Cape guy that is out there the most.” And thankfully they decided to leave me out there and picked Bud Hitchens, who did a great job. 

Alpha friends? - I was head track coach when Marge Peck was named Cape’s athletic director. I remember other coaches saying, “They should sell tickets the first time Marge and Fredman go at each other. This is going to be great.” And we never did because she was good at the things where I was lame and helped me do a better job, and I emceed the all-sports banquet at the end of each year and no one laughed harder at my inappropriate silly asides than Marge. Years later as a vice principal, Marge waded into a second-floor morning fight and was knocked backward and broke her leg. People reached in to assist and she said, “Get away, where is Fredman?” Sometimes when you’re down and in trouble and need a helping hand, you just need a friend and an orthopaedic surgeon.   

Snippets - Lots of resolution weight-loss success stories are now faced with being shut down with no diversions other than freaking with foodstuffs. Weight gain is a good sign. It’s when you eat excessively and don’t gain weight that your bony self needs to see a doctor. I’m missing sports. There is nothing better than watching a grandchild play for a team, except maybe talking to them from across the room as they sit still on the couch. Go on now, git!


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