Hoopers win bigPublished 10:48am Friday, March 7, 2014
ISLE OF WIGHT—When Coach Chris Hooper and his daughter – starting small forward Gabriella Hooper – were named the girls basketball coach and player of the year for the Metro Conference, they were equally stunned.
“I was surprised because last year I was the co-coach of the year,” said Hooper, who is in his eighth season. “It was nice accomplishment. I was glad the other coaches have recognized how hard the girls have worked.”
“I had hoped that I would get something, but I never thought I would,” the junior said. “It was nice to get the recognition for the hard work.
Gabriella, 16, said she was happy with the way the season turned out. She averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds per game, and toward the end of the season she scored her 1,000th point as a Charger.
“I was proud of the things that this team accomplished,” she said. “Next year, we’re hoping to do even better.
“I’m definitely going to keep working in the off-season.”
Gabriella got involved in basketball when she was younger.
“Dad has been coaching a long time,” she said. “I got involved back in Arizona and since then I have been playing.”
Hooper’s wife is from Arizona, so they lived there for a time before returning to Isle of Wight County in 2006. Hooper himself played basketball at Isle of Wight Academy.
Gabriella keeps playing because it is something she loves. She started playing for the Chargers in sixth grade for the JJV team, and she made varsity in ninth grade.
“When I want to relieve stress, I’ll just go play basketball,” she said.
“I want to play in college one day,” Gabriella added, though she was keeping her options open as far as which school.
Playing with your father as the coach can be a challenge sometimes, though.
“It is something I have had to get used to,” she said. “One of the problems is that sometimes he is tougher on me than anyone else.
“Though I am glad he is, and I am glad he is my coach. I feel like we have bonded and gotten closer because of it.”
Hooper said he does work her harder sometimes, but coaching his daughter has been enjoyable.
“She has a great attitude, so I enjoy coaching her,” he said. “I do work her harder, but it is because I spent more time with her and my expectations are higher.
“We go to the gym a lot, but only when she pushes for it.”
He said it was a great year with all of the girls, though.
“It has been enjoyable to work with all of them,” he said. “They are at the level where I can teach them a higher skill level and they can learn it.”
Sometimes being a student athlete can be tough, Gabriella admitted. She said it is not uncommon for her to be on campus from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“I basically live at school,” she said.
She doesn’t play any other sports, but in the spring and over the summer she will play travel basketball and stay in the gym to stay in shape for her senior season.
Hooper said he was surprised that Gabriella had won, but he was also proud of her.
“There was some good competition for that award,” he said. “But she’s put in a lot of work, and I was happy to see that recognized.”
Seeing that her father had won big too, she was pretty excited.
“That was pretty cool that we were coach and player of the year,” Gabriella said. “He really deserves it. All of the other coaches really like him. He’s easy to talk to.”
While she does like to sing and she participates on the academic teams at Isle of Wight Academy, when asked what she does besides basketball, she said under her breath with a smile, “That’s about it.”