Greenville University has recently expanded its athletic department by adding a men’s and women’s gymnastics program. GU, in recent weeks, has made a decision within the hiring process for a head coach. Coach Bill Hopkins has been appointed the head coach position for the program.
After deciding to get back into coaching college gymnastics, Hopkins knew he did not want to coach at the division one level again, so he decided to switch to division three to make a genuine change. “I could make a real difference in division three, where no, you can’t make a difference in division one,” stated Hopkins.
Within a week of submitting his resume, Coach Hopkins was offered the role of head coach at Greenville University.
“I feel really blessed that I’ve kind of been led to Greenville and it happening so fast because I am very impressed with the people here — friendly, open, willing to help, and the student body — students that I’ve talked to, everybody, has just been great.”-Coach Bill Hopkins
Since gymnastics programs have been scarce among division three schools and even D1 and D2 schools in the past, the fact that schools are adding men’s and women’s gymnastics teams now is exciting. Coach Hopkins commented, “That’s why it’s so exciting that all of a sudden after a really long dry spell in the sport where programs were being dropped everywhere, there has been kind of a growth spurt.”
The addition of the GU Gymnastics program elevates the university’s ability to host different schools’ athletic teams. Traditionally, GU athletics compete within the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), but the gymnastic teams will affiliate with the D3 schools in the WIAC, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Along with the teams in the WIAC, Greenville Gymnastics will also compete against higher division schools. Coach Hopkins already has commitments from the gymnastic programs at Southeast Missouri State University, Lindenwood University, and Illinois State University to come to Greenville University to compete. He hopes to be able to face the University of Illinois as well. “We’re going to be able to bring some teams into Greenville that normally wouldn’t come to Greenville, so it should be exciting for the university and the town to have a chance to see teams such as these,” stated Hopkins.
Hosting all of these teams means finding a place to hold meets. Hopkins hopes to utilize the recreation gymnasium in H.J. Long Gym for home meets, but the program will use the new facility at 1450 E City Rte 40 in Greenville, IL. This new facility will also be available for the community to use. Starting at the age of three, children can be a part of the youth program at the new GU Gymnastics facility. The youth program will be headed by Coach Hopkins but supervised by the GU Gymnastics graduate assistants and coached by the college athletes.
The GU Gymnastics program will be beneficial for not only the university but the community as well. Coach Hopkins agreed, “I think it’s going to be really good for the university and really good for the community.”
Let’s see what excitement and competition the teams bring in their first season of the 2022-2023 school year!