Jacob Hopper speech at John James Medal

September 7, 2015

1st XVIII captain Jacob Hopper delivered a memorable speech at the 2015 John James Medal, the best and fairest count for the St Patrick’s College football program.

Following is the full transcript of his speech:

Good Evening Mr Crowley, staff, invited guests, parents and students. It is my absolute pleasure to be able to say a few words tonight; I hope it has been an enjoyable night thus far. In knowing the rich traditions of St Patrick’s College, it has been an unbelievable honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to lead our first 1st XVIII this year, something that I will cherish forever. It has been yet another very busy and successful year on the College football calendar, but firstly in the theme of yesterday’s celebration, that is Father’s Day, it is critical that I first acknowledge family, the reason we are able to do what we do.- Our parents’ support and effort is irreplaceable – something that we as young men should never take for granted. It is obvious that it is not just us boys pulling on the jumper that make this team so unique and special. This year my parents have often said: -It takes a village to raise a child- -“ and for all of us boys here tonight St Pat’s is that village.

To win our 6th Herald Sun Shield and continue this record breaking run honours all those who have gone before us. This year there has been 75 boys who have played at least one game and it is a credit to the culture of the playing group that each player has represented the College with pride and respect. For many of the boys and myself the football program is a very big part of not only our St Patrick’s experience but also our lives. The program challenges each and everyone of us and in doing so plays a critical role in our character development. For me, I came to St Patrick’s College Ballarat as a complete stranger. However the first time I felt as though I could call St Pat’s home was my first game in the 1st XVIII jumper. I remember the day so clearly, it was out here behind me on this hallowed turf against Assumption College Kilmore. It was something I have never experienced before – a brotherhood playing in absolute passion for one another.

The program would not be what it is without the assistance of so many. I must thank all those involved in allowing our team to learn, enjoy and succeed the way we did this year. Thank you to the coaching staff Mr Webb, Mr Giampaolo, Mr Wise, Brad Hoye and Peter Brown for their commitment and desire to help us develop not only as footballlers but as young men also. Thank you Miss Westwood, Mr Gleeson and Sam Romeril for your organisation and support of the side this year. To Charlie Flynn and Peter Henderson for their much appreciated medical and rehabilitation assistance. I would also like to thank Mr Chamings for being our runner and for possibly giving some of the greatest pre-game rev ups we have ever heard. A big thank you has to go to Mr Silcock and to our waterboys whom are hopefully inspired to put on our great jumper in the near future. To Ryan Waight, thank you for your time and the sessions ran on Monday Nights as well as helping out on the sidelines on game day also. – To Mr Franzin, whose commitment and support to the school I have never seen stray in his two years here at the College. To Mr Crowley who came to the College this year and immediately voiced his passion and support for the program. Thank you for not only for your support but also for the eagerness and care you have for all involved, it has been greatly appreciated. –

To Mr Clark words can do no justice to the impact you have had on this school and all of us boys sitting here tonight. Whilst your title may say coach, it is obvious you’re so much more, you are an inspiration to us all. You are a motivator, who seeks for us to not only become better footballers but better young men so that when we leave this College we can have a positive impact on those around us.- This is obvious in your principles of family, education and behaviour all of which come before football. The love you have for all of us boys is what we are most grateful for and we all walk away this year being able to call you a friend, which is what is truly special. Thank you for the faith you have showed in me I have absolutely loved working alongside you this year. Mr Clark, the future of St Patrick’s football will forever be indebted to you, because I know that regardless of you being at the helm, it is because of the values that you have instilled within the program, it will be forever successful. I will watch on in future years with vested interest and would tell the up and coming boys, in the words of this years group to always have -‘pride in the jumper, and commit to the team’. –

I must also thank the leadership of Leigh Spitieri and Joel Cowan who’s vice captaincy was invaluable to the team. Last but not least, I need to thank the boys. While we have always made sure that we respect and play for those who have gone before us I would tell you all that we are a bunch of young men who have created our own piece history – have pride and humility in that.

The St Patrick’s football program will not only remain with us in our memories but will be a major reason as to the men we are one day hopeful of becoming. School footy is not about who is kicking the goals it is all about the goals getting kicked. School footy is selfless, it is bigger than the individual and a type of footy that can be appreciated in the mateships formed. I wish you all the very best for the future in whatever you choose to do, and I hope that in years to come we can all come together again and reflect on the year that was 2015. – “