July 31, 2009
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- UAB head baseball coach Brian Shoop has announced the addition of Josh Hopper to the Blazers' coaching staff. Hopper comes to UAB as an assistant coach after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant at Berry College in northwest Georgia.
This past season, Hopper helped Berry to the program's first NAIA World Series appearance and a ranking of No. 4 in the final NAIA Baseball Coaches Poll. The Vikings finished the year 46-16, and Hopper's pitching staff ranked in the top 25 nationally in ERA (4.22) and opponent batting average (.263).
"Josh has a great command of pitching mechanics and a toughness and energy that will be contagious as he leads our pitching staff," Shoop said. "We truly believe he is one of the bright young stars in our profession, and he will be a great fit at UAB. We as coaches, along with our players, are blessed to have Josh Hopper leading our pitching staff."
The 2009 Berry pitching staff featured NAIA All-American Matt McCalley, who finished the season with a 10-1 record and a 1.26 ERA. Also the program's career saves leader, McCalley is the second All-American coached by Hopper, joining Tim Borders (2001). Hopper has also coached a Major League Baseball draft pick in Collin McHugh, who was a 2008 selection of the New York Mets.
Hopper's pitchers are known for their command of the strike zone with his 2006 Berry staff leading the nation in fewest walks per game and the 2008 version ranking 13th in the country in that category. In his five-year stint with the Vikings, Hopper's pitching staffs averaged 290 strikeouts per year to just 141 walks.
Hopper's most recent stop at Berry was his second stint as an assistant with his alma mater. He started his coaching career at Berry in 2001 before moving on to Georgia State for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Hopper then returned to Berry before the 2005 campaign.
As a player at Berry in the late 1990s, Hopper pitched his way to all-conference honors three times and finished his career ranked in the top five on the school's all-time wins and strikeouts lists. He helped the Vikings to three NAIA regional tournament appearances.
"I actually coached against Josh in the late '90s when he was an outstanding college pitcher, and I have been able to watch his development as a coach over the past decade," Shoop said. "He comes from the same teaching philosophy as Butch Thompson and Daron Schoenrock, two of my former pitching coaches at Birmingham-Southern, so it will be an easy transition for both Josh and me."
Following his collegiate career, Hopper spent two years in the New York Mets' minor league system. He was a member of a championship team in 1999 with the Mets' Gulf Coast League squad and then split the 2000 season between the Capital City Bombers of the South Atlantic League and the Pittsfield Mets of the New York-Penn League.
Hopper graduated from Berry in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education. He earned a master's degree in exercise science from Georgia State in 2004. Hopper was married in July 2006 to the former Kylie Bivens, and the couple has one son, Kase, born in January 2008.
"We are very pleased to welcome Josh, Kylie and Kase into our baseball family," Shoop said. "We know that they will be a great addition."