Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 22, 2014

Hopkins will be 2015 Sports Day honoree

ASHLAND — “Buffalo” Bill Hopkins, who played on two of Ashland’s greatest high school basketball teams in 1953 and 1954, will be the honroee for the 41st annual Elks Sports Day next June.

Hopkins, a lifelong area resident, has been mayor of Russell the past six years and will be running unopposed in November. He and his wife, Ruth, have made a huge impact in that community.

Hopkins was also the quarterback on Ashland’s football teams in 1953 and 1955 (he missed 1954 because of 16 weeks of illness).

He was a reserve on Ashland’s 1953 team that was ranked No. 1 most of the season before being upset in the opening game of the State Tournament. Hopkins was the sixth man on the ‘54 team that finished third in the state.

He will be the fourth person enshrined on the Sports Day wall as he goes up with teammates Jerry Henderson and Earl “Brother” Adkins, Coach George Conley and manager Jim Host, who excelled in baseball.

Paul Reliford, a receiver on some of Hopkins’ football teams, is also a Sports Day honoree from that era and a close friend of Hopkins.

Hopkins admitted “shock and surprise” when chairman George Stout called him with the good news. “I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t expect it,” he said. “It’s such a big honor.”

Hopkins grew up in South Ashland on Plum Street “near Herbie Conley, the Campbell boys and the Ross boys,” he said.

Hopkins started working at Armco out of high school but did play one season of basketball at Ashland Junior College where Bob Sang was his head coach. “Bob was a good man and a good coach. He was one of my football coaches in high school, too.”

However, Hopkins said don’t compare him to some of the all-time sports greats in the area.

“I haven’t been like a Don Gullett or an Earl Adkins,” he said. “But everything I learned in football and basketball have applied well in life.”

Hopkins worked at Armco for 14 years and then for 28 years at Ashland Oil before retiring. He recieved college’s degrees at Marshall University and Morehead State.

He and his wife have two grown children and four grandchildren. He has played golf for 44 years and still goes out three and four times a week, he said.

His nickname of “Buffalo Bill” came at an early age. “My middle name is Cody and I was a large child and looked like a buffalo. I’ve had it all my life, from the time I was born.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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