George Hopkins is a legend around these parts and in the football world.
On Thursday, the longtime Calgary Stampeders equipment manager was saluted like one when he took home an honour from the CFL Awards ceremony in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Hopkins is the 2023 winner of the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award for an amazing 52 seasons and more than 1,000 games with the Stamps.
”In the ultimate team sport, George is the ultimate teammate,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “A consummate professional who leads by example, works incredibly hard, displays undying loyalty, and is motivated, not by the spotlight for himself, but by service to others.
“In a word, George is a ‘legend’.”
Known by friends and colleagues as ‘Geo’, Hopkins is greatly respected both within the Calgary organization and across the league.
On Aug. 5, 2022, Hopkind marked his 1,000th CFL game, including pre-season and post-season contests. He has worked 885 regular-season contests, 48 playoff tilts and 12 Grey Cup finals, earning six championship rings — after starting his association with the club as a ball boy when he was 12.
In 2014, the Mount Royal College graduate was added to the Stampeders Wall of Fame in the builders’ category.
“I’m especially honoured because this is the Hugh Campbell award,” Hopkins said. “From knowing people over the years in the Edmonton organization who worked for Hughie, he epitomized what leadership is about.”
Hopkins has fit thousands of Stampeders with customized equipment — everything from chewing gum to shoulder pads and football cleats. It has been his responsibility to transport all that equipment to everywhere the Stamps have played.
In 2012, Hopkins missed a two-game eastern road trip following surgery for a torn rotator cuff. Hopkins had previously only missed one game — when his wife Cathy delivered their first child, daughter Jorde, in 1992. Hopkins also has a son, Hunter, and a grandson, Malcolm.
In addition to his work with the Stamps, Hopkins helps coordinate an equipment inspection program for amateur football in Alberta. Run under the auspices of Football Alberta, Hopkins inspects equipment and gives recommendations on storing, cleaning, reconditioning and disposal to minor and high school teams.
Hopkins also sits on the board of directors for the Calgary Spring Football Association.
Hugh Campbell is a 10-time Grey Cup champion and one of the greatest players, coaches, general managers and team executives in CFL history. Since 2006, the award bearing his name has been presented to someone who has demonstrated great leadership and made significant contributions to the CFL.
Previous winners of the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award with strong connections to the Stampeders have included Stan Schwartz (2009), Normie Kwong (2016), Wally Buono (2018) and John Hufnagel (2019).