Dead at 36, Loyola's Hopkins remembered for pool of pranks

Doug Brown

July 17, 1991|By Doug Brown

In two editions of Wednesday's Evening Sun it was reported that former Loyola High School All-American swimmer Terry Hopkins died of an apparent heart attack at age 36. According to the coroner's report, Hopkins choked to death when fluids entered his lungs while he napped on the couch after dinner at his home in Moss Beach, Calif.

2& The Evening Sun regrets the error.

There was an area by the Loch Raven Reservoir known to the Loyola High swimmers of the era as "The Cliffs." It was maybe a 20-minute walk through the woods from the road, past the police pistol range.

There, the swimmers would take off their clothes, wrap their underwear around rocks and gleefully heave them into the reservoir. Then they would dive off the cliffs themselves.


"It was a ritual," Frank Sica said, chuckling at the memory. "Our parents kept wondering why we were always so low on underwear. There must be 100 pairs at the bottom of that reservoir right now."

Loyola's finest performed their ritual even in mid-winter. On Martin Luther King Day one year, when the schools were closed, the swimmers headed for the reservoir. John Patzschke, the best freestyle swimmer in the area, dove into the icy waters and didn't come up right away.

"We had to pull him out," Sica said. "John about froze."

Sica, Patzschke, Mark McDonagh and Terry Hopkins were the flower of Loyola swimming from 1970 to 1973, the stars of the Dons' Maryland Scholastic Association championship teams and prep All-Americans themselves.

Last Friday, the ranks grew thinner. Hopkins died suddenly of an apparent heart attack at his home in Moss Beach, Calif., at the age of 36.

He was manager of engineering for Injex Industries Inc. in nearby Hayward. His wife, Judy, is expecting their first child in September.

"Hop was such a great person," said Sica, an architect with Schamu Machowski Doo and Associates of Baltimore. "He relished being our leading practical joker.

To the consternation of coaches Tim Pierce and Murray Stephens, the swimmers had kickboard battles, flinging the foam supports all over the Loyola High pool. Hopkins had the best arm.

"Hop could really wing it," Sica said. "We drove Tim and Murray crazy, threatening to knock lights down and punch out windows."

As a Loyola senior in 1973, Hopkins won the 100- and 200-yard freestyles in the dual meets against arch-rival Calvert Hall and in the MSA championships.

"To that point, the team was the best Loyola ever had," Pierce said. "We had six prep All-Americans, including Terry."

Hopkins was a pretty fair mimic, with Pierce his specialty. Full name: Timothy O. Pierce. Pierce, now the director of Loyola's sixth, seventh and eighth grades, speaks slowly and has impeccable enunciation. Even in recent years, Hopkins delighted entertaining friends and former teammates with his drawn out, melodramatic pronouncement of Pierce's name: "Tim-o-thy Ohhhh Pierce."

Patzschke, Sica, McDonagh and Hopkins formed the nucleus of the emerging swimming power in this area. They swam not only for Loyola but for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, also coached by Pierce and Stephens.

Hopkins went from Loyola to Navy, swam for coach Lee Lawrence for a year and then dropped off the team, but not out of the academy. He graduated in 1977 and served five years in the Marines, coming out as a captain.

"Terry was a hard worker, attentive, on time, always trying to do what you asked," Lawrence said. "Because he was from this area and knew what the academy was all about, he could have tried to bend the rules and get away with things, but he never did.

"He was 20 then, and had been swimming since he was 6. That's a long time. He got tired of it. You can put your face in the water and go back and forth only so many times. It's a lonely sport."

If Hopkins tired of the drudgery of competitive swimming, he did not lose his interest in sports. The other night, his parents, Ed and Treva Hopkins of Ocean Pines, ticked off his recent pursuits: jet skiing in the Pacific, scuba diving, sailing, mountain biking, weightlifting, racquetball, water skiing and snow skiing.

Their only child, Treva Hopkins said, was "compulsive about sports."

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