The voice of USF Athletics, Jim Louk, will routinely put down his radio headset and pick up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.

Louk has been broadcasting games for 27 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways ... This week he remembers USF soccer's first All-American soccer player.

Letters From Louk: Class of 2011: Fergus Hopper                                   

By: JIM LOUK
GoUSFBulls.com

The man who will be the first soccer player in the USF Athletics Hall of Fame didn't come to USF for soccer.

"Fergus knew what he wanted to do," says former teammate Con Foley. "Teams we know... Arsenal... Manchester United... they all wanted Fergus when he was 17 or 18 years old."

Instead, Ireland's Fergus Hopper came to America to join USF.

"Fergus came to USF because it gave him what he wanted to do.  As much as he loved soccer, he realized long term he had to have a career," says Foley.

Hopper, in fact, was already working at the time for Allied Irish Banks in Dublin.  He took a four-year hiatus to come to USF, play a little soccer, and go back to banking, USF degree in hand.

Turned out, though, he did more than play a little soccer. He was USF's first soccer All-American, getting the honor three times, in 1974-76.  He was on the All-Sun Belt Conference team in 1976, and in 1977 he was nominated for the Herman Award, the college soccer equivalent of the Heisman.  He led the Bulls to two NCAA Tournament appearances in his USF career and won four meritorious service awards from the department.

Even tempered and personable off the field, Hopper was a tough defender on the pitch. 

"He had a great ability to read and understand the game.  He would be there before the ball.  He could understand what his own defense would do and he would fill in when we made errors," says Foley.

As the program grew under USF Hall of Fame coach Dan Holcomb, Hopper was a stabilizing force on defense. 

"Fergus was in the center of our defense," says Holcomb.  "As a result, we were really solid there all four years he played."

"He set the standard," says Foley, "for people who would come to USF and play defender in the future."

"Just an all-around athlete," recalls former USF trainer Tony Jonaitis.  "A great athlete and a great person. He always appreciated whatever you did for him."

Away from the game, the native of Ireland adapted to a new country easily, and quickly won the respect of teammates, coaches, and USF staff members. 

"Once he became your friend he was always going to be your friend.  He was there to help in the tough times and there to enjoy the successes of the team," says Foley.

"He was definitely the leader of his team and definitely the hardest worker," says Jonaitis. 

His honor is an important moment to both Foley and Holcomb.  

"He was probably the best player we ever had," says Holcomb.  "He was a wonderful student.  Fergus Hopper is a prime example of an excellent student-athlete."

"It means a lot for the soccer program," says Foley, speaking of Hopper's induction.  "He was a great leader.  Fergus is what soccer is about."

Fergus Hopper, three-time All-American, joins the USF Hall of Fame on Friday night as part of the class of 2011.


 

Jim Louk   Jim Louk
  Voice of the USF Athletics since 1983
When the 2011-12 academic year rolled around, Jim Louk began his 28th year in the athletics department at the University of South Florida and his fifth as Assistant Director of Athletics for Sales and Broadcasting.

Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Bulls’ men’s basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1997 season. He then made the transition to football in USF’s inaugural 1997 season, and still serves as the team’s play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2010 football season having broadcast every Bulls’ game in their history – a span of 165 games.

Not only a contributor over the airwaves, Louk has also made his presence felt in getting other USF sports teams exposure on radio and television as well. Prior to the 2003-04 season only men’s basketball and football were consistently seen or heard in the Tampa Bay area. However, since then, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball all make regular appearances on either radio, television or on the internet – via audio or video – with live streaming.

Truly the “Voice of USF Athletics,” in addition to men’s basketball and football, Louk has also frequently announced USF women’s basketball, baseball and softball games for both radio and television.

On the sales side, Louk heads up all season and group ticket sales for USF athletics while also overseeing a staff of three associates. The ticket sales team was part of a departmental sales effort that resulted in over 7 million dollars of USF game ticket sales in the 2009-10 academic year.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Louk, his wife Barbara and their son Ross reside in Lutz.

Archives
05/14/10 - Fond & Funny Memories at Red McEwen Field
05/27/10 - Memories of Leagues Past
06/19/10 - Early Travel with the Bulls
06/23/10 - Home(s) of the Bulls
07/12/10 - 21 in a Row
08/25/10 - Bring Me the Head of Rocky the Bull
09/06/10 - Another Signature Win
09/15/10 - Happy 15th Birthday, USF Football
09/17/10 - Visit with Joe Lewkowicz
09/17/10 - Visit with Sherry Bedingfield
10/18/10 - The First Bowl Game
11/03/10 - Top 10 Wins in USF Football History
11/16/10 - 1990 Sun Belt Championship
11/23/10 - Visit with Dan Holcomb
11/30/10 - Visit with Kerine Black
12/02/10 - Visit with Ross Gload
12/10/10 - Let’s Just Get This Game Over With
01/19/11 - Way Out West for the NCAA Tournament
01/31/11 - The Best Road Trip Ever
02/10/11 - History of the NCAA Tournament in Tampa Bay
03/22/11 - Go For Broke - 1986 Baseball
06/09/11 - Goodbye from an Old Friend
07/12/11 - The 2009 WNIT Championship
08/03/11 - Radenko Dobras
09/01/11 - Class of 2011 -Anthony Henry
09/01/11 - The Wait Is Finally Over
09/05/11 - Genuine Selmon Unforgettable
09/10/11 - This Group Is Special
09/16/11 - Ray Jay Will Be Rocking
09/23/11 - Memories of USF's El Paso Trip
10/02/11 - Time to See What USF Is Made of
10/04/11 - 1997 Homecoming Memories
10/12/11 - Class of 2011 - Monica Triner
10/14/11 - The Bulls Are Due for a Win
10/21/11 - Home Sweet Home
10/27/11 - The 2008 Men’s Soccer Run
11/02/11 - Class of 2011: Michelle Collier 
11/16/11 - Class of 2011: Bob Grindey
11/17/11 - Class of 2011: Fergus Hopper
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