Friendship runs deep for Large, HopperPublished 12:47am Monday, August 12, 2013
Friendships run deep. And when those friends were teammates, they run even deeper and stronger.
Case in point is the longtime friendship between John Large and David Hopper.
Both played basketball at Rock Hill. Large is now this area’s regional director for Western Southern Life Insurance while Hopper is principal and head basketball coach at his alma mater.
The two rode to games together. Large would pick up Hopper and they would head for the school. Large always wore three pairs of socks but one day he realized he was two pairs of socks shy when he arrived at Hopper’s house.
Large asked to borrow some socks and Hopper obliged him.
Since Large was wearing Hopper’s socks, he said it was an omen.
“He told me that he was going to get his first in-game dunk and I was going to set the school single game scoring record tonight,” Hopper said as he recalled the day and he blew it off as guys just talking.
But in the first quarter, Large had a breakaway play. Although only 6-foot tall, Large could jump really well and he did slam down a dunk.
Hopper soon found his rhythm and before he knew it, he had 27 points at halftime. He began to think about what his friend had predicted before the game.
As it turned out, Hopper had 48 points with only a few seconds left in the game and he was fouled. It was a high-scoring game and the Redmen held a slim lead on their opponent.
Hopper hit the first shot and he was now just one point shy of the school single-game record. But his team had 98 points and the fans were chanting for 100 points. Hopper thought about missing the shot and hoping to get the rebound and scoring so Rock Hill could hit the century mark. But he also had the dilemma that if he just made the free throw he would have the record.
One was more of a sure thing than the other, and one more point would seal the win. He made the free throw.
Hopper was happy with the record, but he couldn’t help thinking about what Large had predicted.
Fast-forward to January of 2012. Large took his son Charlie, a sixth-grader, to an Addidas basketball camp in Lexington, Ky. The national director was coach Dave Taylor who selected five boys out of the 110 in camp to travel to the national Phenom Camp in San Diego where the top 400 boys in grades 6-8 would compete.
Charlie was one of the five selected. He qualified for the national all-star team that was comprised of the top 24 out of 138 sixth graders. He was ranked 27th overall and 8th at his position.
It was great news for Charlie and dad. But then came the problem. The camp was during the summer and John was unable to go due to business commitments. He turned to his friend Dave Hopper.
“I was talking with David Hopper as we normally do. He asked about the camp. I asked, ‘you wouldn’t want to take a trip to San Diego, would you?’’ said Large who then explained the situation.
“No way,” Hopper said and he explained how he was getting ready for the school year, his own business as well as his own children.
Two days later the phone rang in Large’s office. “I will take him,” said the voice on the other end.
Large was dumbfounded. Hopper explained that he made some arrangements and got the approval from the superintendent to be off for a few days.
Large purchased two airline tickets, booked the room and watched them take off and fly 2,500 miles from home.
“None of this would have been possible without my old b-ball teammate and the love for b-ball,” said Large.
Friendships from sports run deep.
Or else Hopper figured a trip to San Diego paid for the cost and interest on those two pairs of socks Large borrowed about 20 years ago.
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.