Heavens open up as high school football teams show solidarity in tribute to fallen officer’s family

On Friday night, the Waterloo High School football team won its first football game since 2017.

But the biggest thing that happened that day may not have even been the football game.

It has been a sad week for the town of Waterloo. ISP Trooper Nick Hopkins was killed while serving a search warrant in East St. Louis. He was from Waterloo, and  a member of Life Community Church – Columbia, IL.

Waterloo was hosting Herrin High School for a big football game, but for a brief time before the game, they were on the same team: Team Hopkins.

According to the Republic-Times, “As a show of solidarity, the Waterloo and Herrin high school football teams walked onto the field together at WHS prior to Friday’s game, carrying the Illinois State Police, Thin Blue Line and American flags in honor of fallen ISP Trooper Nick Hopkins.”

Waterloo pic 2 policeThe photo to the left is members of Trooper Hopkins’ SWAT team unit with Waterloo head coach Dan Rose. (John Spytek photo)

Then, believe it or not, the Herrin (Waterloo’s opponents) football team presented a $2,000 check to the Hopkins family. Trooper Hopkins, who was 33 years old, had served with the Illinois State Police for 10 years. He left behind his wife Whitney Hopkins, and three children; an infant daughter Emma, and twins Evelyn and Owen.

As if right on cue, the Heavens opened up and a big storm with lighting and heavy rain held the game up, but everyone waited patiently and they were able to get the game in and Waterloo got their win.

“We knew the Waterloo football team was planning to honor Trooper Hopkins in some way, but had no idea Herrin would join in for such a moving tribute,” said Republic-Times sport editor Corey Saathoff, who covered the story.

As far as the weather interrupting the game and the “Heavens opening up” reference, Saathoff told STLSportsPage.com,  “I didn’t think of that at the time,  but what a wonderful thing to imagine.”

“I believe both football teams, Waterloo and Herrin displayed the type of respect and sportsmanship that all athletes at all levels of sport, should emulate,” said Johnny Caupert, President of the Waterloo School Board who is the parent of a Waterloo Cheerleader. “I never miss a game– haven’t missed a Waterloo Bulldog football game in six years. I was literally 50 feet from where the pic was taken.”

Caupert posted the photo of the students walking in together with the flags Friday night on his Facebook page with the caption: “A picture truly does speak a 1000 words.”

People started sharing the photo.

“I had no clue my Facebook post would go viral, but, it has nearly 10,000 Likes at this point,” he said.

Last week the “off the field news” in the St. Louis area was students getting into fights at two area football games, but this week, the students and fans from Waterloo High School and Herrin High School deserve some recognition for what they did: both teams standing as one with the American flag and the Police flag.

“Frankly, I believe many adults could learn some valuable lessons about respect for authority, from these student athletes,” said Caupert.

To read Republic-Times sports editor’s complete story on the game: http://www.republictimes.net/waterloo-opens-with-win/

 (Photo credits: John Spytek, Waterloo Republic-Times)

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