STCC offers ‘cool’ opportunities for Hawaiian student-athlete
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Before she was shooting hoops with the Rams, Kassidy Hopfe was swimming with the sharks.
Hopfe, a first-year student and basketball player with the Springfield Technical Community College Rams, grew up in Oahu, part of the Hawaiian islands. While a student at Waianae High School, she earned extra money working on a boat as a lifeguard for tourists who snorkel.
“It wasn’t unusual to see a shark,” said Hopfe, a native Hawaiian whose family has lived on the island for several generations. “The best thing is to not panic in front of the tourists. I saw four sharks in two years. They left us alone. We haven’t had a shark attack in a long time.”
Hopfe said she’ll be back on the boat keeping the tourists safe when she returns this summer. She loves the warm Pacific Ocean – and the extra money helps cover the cost of flying back and forth, which can be expensive. She went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Enrolled at STCC since September, Hopfe, 18, plays forward for the women’s basketball team. Ed Guczek, the basketball coach at STCC, contacted Hopfe. He was looking for new players and watched a film of Hopfe’s high school games through a recruiting website.
“When I reached out to her about playing at our school she demonstrated a strong passion for the game of basketball, and she looked forward to the opportunity to play on the collegiate level,” Guczek said. “Both she and her mother studied the STCC website and asked a lot of questions, and they concluded that STCC offered her the opportunity to obtain an excellent education, and the ability to play women's college basketball.”
Guczek called Hopfe a “very valuable member of this year’s team” who is happy with her decision to attend STCC.
If I didn’t like it, I was going to go back ... but I ended up liking it. I was like, wow, this place is cool.Kassidy Hopfe, STCC student and Hawaii native
Hopfe and her mother flew to New England for the first time in August to visit the STCC campus. “If I didn’t like it, I was going to go back with her, but I ended up liking it. I was like, wow, this place is cool. I want to stay here. I like how it’s different,” Hopfe said. “Back home I never saw snow. I had never seen anything like this, because Hawaii is so isolated.”
Hopfe also was excited to be going to a school in Springfield, the birthplace of basketball. “A lot of schools will look at me here. In Hawaii, no one really comes to scout. It’s so far away and isolated,” she said.
STCC, the only technical community college in Massachusetts, offers more than 90 degree and certificate programs. STCC also offers one of the most affordable choices for students like Hopfe who live out of state.
Enrolled in the mechanical engineering technology program, Hopfe’s goal is to transfer to a four-year college after graduating from STCC. She wants to continue to play basketball while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
Playing with the Rams at STCC means an opportunity to travel to parts of the country she had never experienced. Since the season started in November, she has trekked with the team to Rhode Island, New York, Maine, Connecticut and New Jersey.
While many New Englanders might take the region for granted, the terrain and climate of the Northeast are novel and exotic for Hopfe. Back home in Oahu, her days were filled with surfing, body-boarding, diving and fishing. “A typical Hawaii girl,” she said.
“Almost every house is about five minutes away from the beach, but my house is about 1 minute, and I’d go to the beach every day,” she said.
“I do miss that,” she admitted.
Except for a trip in ninth grade to see a rodeo in Wyoming, she had never been away from the Hawaiian islands. She was looking forward to going away to college and is thrilled to have found STCC.
“All my life I wanted to travel, and I’m doing it now that I’m here,” she said. “I enjoy STCC. I like that it’s small and has awesome programs like mechanical engineering technology. It’s a new adventure for me. I can’t wait to try snowboarding. I think I’m going to be good at it. It’s like surfing but without the water.”
Interested in applying to STCC? Visit stcc.edu/apply or call Admissions at (413) 755-3333. The second spring session begins March 11, 2020.
About Springfield Technical Community College
Founded in 1967 and located on 35 acres of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, STCC is a major resource for the economic vitality of Western Massachusetts. As the only technical community college in Massachusetts, STCC offers a variety of career programs unequalled in the state. STCC’s highly regarded transfer programs in business, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, liberal arts, and STEM fields continue to provide the most affordable options for students pursuing a four-year degree. With an annual enrollment of about 7,000 day, evening, weekend, and online students, STCC is a vibrant campus rich in diversity.
For more information about STCC, visit www.stcc.edu. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@S_T_C_C) and Instagram (@stccpics).
Jim Danko, (413) 755-4812, firstname.lastname@example.org