The School Newspaper of Tomball High School

The Cougar Claw

The School Newspaper of Tomball High School

The Cougar Claw

Reader Survey

Set & spiked into success

Freshman Hopkins makes leap to varsity volleyball
Lauren Nolen
Gemma speaking with her team

Freshman Gemma Hopkins did what most would believe is unachievable, playing for the Tomball varsity team and becoming an HJV 16 Elite (Houston Junior Varsity Athlete) in her first year of high school.

She wears No. 5 for Tomball.

The inspiration for Gemma’s endeavors begins with her siblings. Following in their footsteps, her sister also began the varsity team as a freshman and currently plays for Alabama. Her older brother is on the baseball team and is shooting for a scholarship to Texas A&M.

“They influenced me to compete and I owe so much for my success to my siblings and parents, they have supported me and I couldn’t do it without them,” Gemma said.

Story continues below advertisement

Whether they’re driving her to her practices, assisting her with homework, or just showing support her parents have been one of the main reasons that she keeps playing today. When she began her career as a volleyball enthusiast, they were her No. 1 fans and continue to be to this day.

Her success didn’t start this year. She’s been playing with girls older than her in the 16 Elite team for a while, and being on a team where most are seniors can turn out to be quite a culture shock.

“You have to elevate your way of thinking because you have to work so much harder to participate with people who have been playing the team with three or more years of experience,” Gemma said.

Now a member of a varsity squad that had a successful season and made it to the playoffs, maintaining a proper life balance can be difficult.

“The balance can be difficult at times, however, I often use lists to keep up with my volleyball and school expectations.”

Alongside this, Gemma volunteers for her community whenever she can. Gemma has always valued being a part of her community in whatever ways that are possible.

“Volleyball has always been a part of my life and something I’ve enjoyed,” she said. “My family started this journey for me and I want to  be the one to continue it.”

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Charlotte Hildebrandt
Charlotte Hildebrandt, Staff Writer
Hi, Coogs! My name is Charlotte Hildebrandt and I’m a sophomore serving my second year of the cougar claw. I have really enjoyed my previous experience with the Cougar Claw and plan on spending more years on this team. I also really enjoy reading, knitting, and my extracurricular activities. I’m looking forward to this year :)
Lauren Nolen
Lauren Nolen, Photo Editor
Hey! My name is Lauren Nolen and I'm a junior here at THS. This is my 2nd year on the newspaper staff and I'm very excited to share my stories and photos! I also compete in journalism academic UIL events.  Outside of school I am a competitive figure skater and I also enjoy taking pictures, listening to music and hanging out with friends. Fun fact: My favorite band is Backseat Lovers. GO COOOGS!!