A coach's resilience

Hopper suffered an aortic dissection. He was airlifted to the hospital for emergency heart surgery in Nevada and when he came back home they rushed him back. Now, he's making a comeback.

Posted: Jul 28, 2020 6:48 PM
Updated: Jul 28, 2020 6:53 PM

PARADISE, Calif. -- There’s no question Paradise High football coach Andy Hopper’s heart bleeds green and gold and his heart pumps through his football team. But in September 2019, Hopper’s heart couldn’t take it anymore.

“The valve from the top of my heart dissected from my heart and I felt it immediately, I was sleeping, I had my wife rush me to the hospital and that’s where it started,” said Hopper.

Hopper suffered an aortic dissection. He was airlifted to the hospital for emergency heart surgery in Nevada and when he came back home they rushed him back.

“It was the most traumatic. When they got me to the hospital, they did the tests and the one doctor said ‘I’m giving you a one percent chance to live and I need you to know that, and you need to make peace with your situation as you go on the helicopter because we don’t think you’re going to make it,” recalled Hopper.

Hopper made it, just like his resilient team.

“I felt every prayer that everyone gave to me,” said Hopper. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling but I knew people were praying for me and if it wasn’t for that I don’t think I would’ve survived.”

Hopper returned to the football field in October and was met with open arms from his Bobcats.

Now in his 25th season with the team, Hopper is taking this break to spend time with his family and is working on his new home in Paradise.

Hopper moved into his home weeks before his surgery and nearly a year after he lost his home to the Camp Fire.

“I’m a survivor. “My town has been great for me, they’ve shown me so much support and love. They call me a miracle, but I call myself the cockroach of Paradise because I just won’t die.

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