Holly Hoopingarner’s first order of business after returning from spring break was to make a beeline to her coach’s office.
The visit didn’t surprise Lee Taft at all.
“Holly came to me wanting me to put her through a speed and agility workout. That’s why she is who she is,” said Taft, who recently completed his first season Greenwood’s coach. “One thing I’m really noticing is that it’s OK to create a culture of working hard, and that’s what Holly did.”
Not for one or two seasons, but all four.
This applied whether Hoopingarner was in a gym filled with spectators or kept company only by a basketball and the sound it makes when dribbled.
Her work ethic enabled her to pour in a program-record 1,623 points for the Woodmen.
With nothing left to prove, Hoopingarner cemented her legacy March 16 by becoming the first Greenwood girls basketball player to be named to the Indiana All-Star Team.
It took the 41st season of Woodmen girls basketball for it to happen.
“I was talking to our athletic director before the season started and was asking him if we had had any All-Star players or not. He said not with the girls, but that Greenwood had two boys make it,” said Hoopingarner, referring to 1941 Indiana Mr. Basketball John Mark Bass and 1971 Indiana All-Star Jerry Nichols.
“It’s crazy to think about, but it’s an honor to be the first girls player,” Hoopingarner said. “Representing my school and the city of Greenwood have been the No. 1 priority for me, to be able to make them proud.”
Selected three times to the Daily Journal’s All-County Team (she was Player of the Year in 2014), Hoopingarner, in her final season at Greenwood, produced team-high averages of 23.6 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals.
She also proved to be a factor on the boards with 3.3 rebounds per game.
All-Star players and coaches report to Marian University on June 4. The All-Stars head coach is Rick Risinger of seven-time state champion Heritage Christian.
Games against the Indiana Junior All-Stars are June 7 and 9, while home-and-away games against the Kentucky All-Stars will be June 11 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and June 12 at a Kentucky site to be announced later.
Despite being one of the shortest players (along with Lawrence North’s Lauren Dickerson, also 5-foot-3) on a 13-player All-Star roster featuring six players 6-foot or taller, the 5-3 Hoopingarner is determined to impact this All-Star squad.
It will require sweat, all-out effort and being dedicated to learning whatever offensive and defensive systems her coach implements.
Welcome to a day in the life of Holly Hoopingarner.
“I’ve grown up hearing that I was too small to play Division I basketball,” said Hoopingarner, who has signed to play at D-I IUPUI. “I once had a person tell me I would never play a minute of varsity basketball.
“But hard work is an important quality in my family. My parents (Todd and Kris) are hard workers. Everybody has it.”
Knowing she’s about to play against higher level competition, Hoopingarner is working with Taft and her trainer, Paul Swartz, in an attempt to eventually be able to create separation from taller and quicker players.
“Holly just eats it up,” Taft said. “The other day after a workout, Holly, who knows she could be doing these workouts herself, said, ‘It’s just different having a coach watch so that I do it right.’ ”
Lauren Dickerson;Lawrence North;5-3;15.5
Darby Foresman;Heritage Christian;6-3;9.0
Ae’Rianna Harris;Lawrence North;6-1;11.7
Tyasha Harris;Heritage Christian;5-10;23.5
Cameron Onken;Lafayette CC;5-10;20.6
Jayla Scaife;Muncie Central;5-11;23.5
Sydney Shelton;Mt. Vernon (Fortville);5-9;23.5
Emily Sullivan;Evansville Memorial;6-4;18.2
Head coach: Rick Risinger, Heritage Christian
Assistants: Jeff Knoy, McCutcheon; Missy Voyles, North Harrison