Antoine Hoppenot's leadership key to Reno 1868 FC's season
Reno 1868 FC’s season is now in full gear and a familiar face for fans is back out on the pitch this season. It was hard to miss Antoine Hoppenot’s firey personality last year, and from the looks of it, it’s not going anywhere this season as well.
"It feels great obviously, happy to be back," said Hoppenot. "Had a great year last year. Felt that we had unfinished business, in terms of not getting any playoff wins or a USL Championship. That’s the goal this year to go out there and win it all."
There are nine returners to this year’s Reno 1868 squad, but one of the most important players of that group is Hoppenot, or Hop as his teammates call him. He had 12 goals and six assists last season, but it’s his leadership that really makes him so valuable.
"I feel like it’s two-part sometimes," said the forward in terms of his leadership style. "I’m a little aggressive and can sometimes get on guys when I don’t think they’re doing the right things. At the same time, I try to lead by example. Eat right before practice, after practice go to the weight room, get a work out in, prepare myself for the next day. Hopefully it’s a little bit of both where if you just want to follow what I’m doing, hopefully I’m doing the right things, and you can do the right things. If I think you’re not doing the right things then I’ll let you know."
His teammate from both this year and last year, Brent Richards, agrees with Hoppenot's evaluation of his leadership style.
"His standard is always high. He expects that from other people, as we all do. It’s good that he’s a little more vocal than I am or some of the other players are. It’s good because he expects a lot from us and we respect a lot from ourselves so it’s good that he holds us to that."
But Hoppenot also knows that he can’t do it all alone.
"I think it’s going to be leader by committee which is the best way teams win. I think a lot of different guys have that leadership quality that every team needs. Obviously I’ll be a part of it, but we have guys like Jordan, Brenton, Brent who have been around professional soccer for awhile, who know what it means to be a winning team. I think the guys are ready to go out there and be led to victory."
Hoppenot isn’t talking about small victories either.
"We’re going for a USL Championship. I think that’s the biggest thing. We want to get the number one seed in the West and get as many home games as we can possibly get in the playoffs and ride that all the way to a USL Championship. It’s a long season and it’s a lot of bumps along the way, but the idea is that we stay strong on that goal and when we get to September, October, we have a chance to do what we want to do."