Football's Jessica Hopkins

"Follow your passion and it will lead you to your purpose."

The say that football is the ultimate manís sport.  But if thatís the case, why are 
some of the most exciting games played by the ladies of the Legends Football League?  
And among the very best in the league is Jessica Hopkins, whose Seattle Mist went 
undefeated in 2017 and went on to win the LFL Championship!
Name & Jersey Number: Jessica Hopkins, #5

Height: Five feet, four inches

Weight: One hundred and forty-five pounds

Hair: Brunette

Hometown: Ferndale, Washington

LADYSPORTS: Welcome to LadySports, Jessica! When did you first get into football?
JESSICA HOPKINS: I noticed a coworker of mine was playing for some women's football team on her Facebook, and asked her about it. She said they needed more players because they had lost some to injuries, and said I'd be a great fit for the league. I went out to the next practice, having no idea what I was getting myself intoÖand never looked back. I fell in love with the game quickly, being part of a team and being a competitive athlete again. It was exactly what I needed at that point of my life.

LS: Who trained you to play? And what positions do you play?
I'm a Personal Trainer and Sports Performance Coach so I trained myself all along. I played wide receiver and free safety for the majority of my career and dabbled at corner a few games towards the end of my career.

LS: What was your biggest influence to become a football player?
I don't think I ever had anyone or anything in my life that influenced me into becoming a football player ... that just kind of happened. I'd say that from a young age I naturally loved being involved in sports, mostly individual at first and then moved into team sports around 12 or 13 years old.
I have always loved to compete and be active, so once college sports were done and I was settled into my personal training job for several years, I was naturally drawn to the opportunity to light that fire again.

LS: What other sports do you have an interest in?
I grew up playing basketball and still love the game very much and hope to get back to it regularly. I also have a background in volleyball and enjoy racquetball, weight lifting and figure competitions.

LS: How would you describe yourself in terms of attitude, personality, likes, dislikes, and strengths?
Personality, I'd say I'm very even-keeled. I don't have too many highs or too many lows. I'm very down to Earth, genuine, funny and caring, I love to help people. My attitude in regards to sports is focused, determined, a team player and coachable. I have many likes: I love spending time with my son, who is 16. We have a lot of fun. I love animals, I have two cats named Luna and Eris. I love spending time with my family and friends, going to happy hour, everyone that knows me knows I love a good cheeseburger. I love beer. I enjoy going to sporting events like the Seahawks or Husky games or just watching them on TV. I enjoy staying in and watching movies and traveling when I get the chance.
Dislikes: Messiness, disorganization, laziness, people who are rude or act as if they are better than everyone else. I hate spiders. I hate cleaning the bathtub. My strengths: I'm reliable, disciplined, organized, good communicator, quick at getting back to people, laid back, consistent and dedicated.

LS: What is your most marked characteristic as a pro player?
I'd say my most marked characteristic was my dedication to the sport, my team and my craft over the last 8 years. When I commit to something, I commit wholly and give everything I have to it and I can honestly say I did that during my football career.

LS: Describe a typical day of training for you. What is most important in your workout?
My training days will vary depending if I'm in off season, pre-season or in season. During a typical off season I'm in the gym working on getting stronger, staying consistent with weight lifting 5 days a week and doing some cross training for cardio including doing other sports like basketball to keep up my endurance, speed and agility. When the season starts approaching I start working in more agility drills that we will be doing at our tryouts like the combine. L-drill, 40 yard dash, the shuttle, broad jump etc. I'll work in the agility ladder and hurdle drills a lot to prep my feet, ankles and legs for the volume of pounding they are going to take. In season I'm more about maintenance. I continue my strength training but am working more on strength maintenance rather than gains and I'd taper down leading up to a game and focus more on cardio, breaking a sweat and a lot of stretching, foam rolling, hot tub, icing, steam room. It all just depends on what my body is feeling like leading up to a game. Typically we were practicing 12-14 hours in a weekend the week before the game so a lot of times I was trying to calm down flare ups from the volume of training we did, so a lot of times I was just doing cardio to keep the blood moving, lots of stretching and rolling and often time physical therapy appointments as needed to help speed recovery.

LS: How would you best describe your playing style?
I'm a total finesse player. I'm all about my routes and my hands and finishing. I'm not the fastest player and have definitely lost a step or two over the last few years but my strengths have always been my ability to create space with my cuts on my routes and my ability to finish the catch. I'd say I'm very consistent and over the years I started to notice that anytime I'd make a mistake in a game, I come back and make up for it the next play or next series.

LS: Playing, what are you best known for?
My hands.

LS: Have you ever been injured on the field?
Yes, I sprained my MCL towards the end of a game in 2013 when a girl rolled up on my leg as it was extended out in front of me. It was very scary as I had already torn my ACL on that knee and feeling it crunch when she landed on it with all her weight. When our team doctor tested it after the game he told me it was likely I tore my ACL and MCL, I got an attitude, got up and went out to take my lap to thank the fans, refusing to believe him. I knew the knee wasn't right but I refused to believe I was done for the season. After an MRI confirmed it was a bad sprain of the MCL, I missed one game two weeks later and was back for the next one. It's not quite been the same since that injury though.

LS: Who have been your toughest team to play?
We've always had a great rivalry with LA. We couldn't beat them our first 4 seasons but we've pretty much owned the win column over the last 4 years. We know when we play them, no matter what their roster or ours looks like, it's always a battle and usually comes down to the last series. It's been a fun rivalry over the years.

LS: What has been your most memorable win?
Other than the two Championship games (obvious choices) it'd have to be the first time we finally beat LA in 2013. They just raised their 3rd championship banner before the game; in their house, and we came out and beat them on the road. It was a long time coming and I think it was one of the best defensive games we've every played against them.

LS: What was your worst loss?
Losing in the Championship last year to Chicago by just a handful of points was pretty devastating, especially after coming back after winning our first Championship with the hopes of winning back to back. To get that far and not finish it the way we should have was a tough one to swallow for quite a while.

LS: What sort of reactions do you get from people when they learn you are a football player?
People are usually really surprised when they learn I play football. They usually ask a lot of questions and are really interested in what it's like and why I play. It's fun to surprise people and break down stereotypes.

LS: What is so special about this sport to you?
The most special thing, as I've told many people, is not actually the game; there's so much more to this league than the game. It's the family and the relationships you build. You're spending time with these people so much during the season, they become your family and you build so many amazing memories over each season, we fight through adversity together and we support each other. We lift each other up when we're down and we celebrate everyone's accomplishments and our wins together.

LS: What are your fans like?
Our fans are amazing!! They are loyal and unwavering. They've become family as well in a sense. It's great to be in a sport where they have the ability to really connect with the players via social media and I've really enjoyed getting to know many of them on a personal level, knowing about their kids, what they do and be able to support and encourage one another. It's a great community.

LS: If you had the power, what one thing would you do to improve the sport?
Only one thing? haha. Well, a lot of people don't know that we are not paid in this sport and while we do play for the love of the game, the women in this sport deserve to be paid for the time and efforts they give this sport. The league is still growing and trying to break through to major networks so we can get to that level. I don't know all the financials on the league obviously so it's hard to say if that's even possible but once it is, that would be the first thing I would change because obviously it would incentivize a lot more athletes out there who might be interested as well as help maintain those that have already sacrificed a lot of their time, energy, money, their body etc. The product on the field is the athletes and you have to take care of them because without them you have no league and while there are plenty more athletes out there, it's hard to build a league that is continually having to rebuild.

LS: What are your thoughts on women participating in the sport?
The women in this sport are some of the most badass, beautiful and amazing women I have ever met. We hold down full time jobs, raise families, compete at a high level in a full contact sport and give back to our communities.

LS: What was your most unforgettable moment in the sport?
One of the most unforgettable moments in this sport for me personally was when we won our first Championship in 2015 because we were able to do so on our home field in front our amazing fans, our family and friends who had supported us and rooted for us since 2009. It was so special to be able to share that moment with everyone.

LS: Have you been able to play off of the sport to endorse any products or make any advancements in what you do to make money?
I sell my own personalized autographed photos to our fans but other than that our team has had some sponsorships over the years so we've been able to get some nice things and I've dabbled a bit in trying to make some money helping some local start up companies with their apparel line but nothing that is going to allow me to walk away from my job. There's definitely opportunities out there though.

LS: Any regrets?
Not one.

LS: What would you do if you couldn't play football?
I'm sure I'd have found something else to compete in if football had never come along. As for now I will have to figure out what that will be moving forward. :)

LS: What is your personal motto?
I've always liked the quote, "Follow your passion and it will lead you to your purpose." I think that's great advice you can live by.

LS: What would make you most happy in life?
I'm already extremely happy with my life; I couldn't ask for more, I'm just very grateful for my health, I have a great job that I love, I'm blessed with an amazing and supportive family, a son who is one of my best friends and my very special football family and friends. And I'm so proud of my son, who is excelling in football.

LS: Anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you for reaching out to me and for all your support of the league and it's athletes. And fans can visit me on Facebook at Seattle Mist Jessica Hopkins LFL.