A Loyola alum and four-year letterman for Loyola’s men’s golf team is back in town. For the first time since he graduated in 2012, Erik Hoops has returned to Chicago, settling into his new position as director of golf.
“It’s been pretty special,” said Hoops. “It was an experience I always wanted to have, but I can’t believe it’s happening so soon into my career at 25. I’ve had to pinch myself at times.”
Hoops replaced former director of golf Kyle Stefan. Loyola’s Athletic Director Steve Watson said Stefan’s departure is for the good of the golf program, but declined to elaborate on his departure.
“It was a joint decision to take our golf programs in a different direction,” said Watson.
Hoops had an impressive golf career at Loyola, helping the Ramblers win the Horizon League Conference championship title in 2012.
Hoops said he expects his experience as an athlete at Loyola to benefit the way he coaches the teams. Hoops acknowledged that coaching golf at any college presents challenges, but playing golf in Chicago has unique challenges: wind and commute time.
Senior men’s golfer PJ Riner said he believes Hoops’ experience with winning a conference championship will benefit the team when it competes in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
“Because he was on the conference team, he has the ring, and that shows that he knows what it takes to win a conference championship,” said Riner.
Senior women’s golfer Olivia Lindsley agreed that Hoops’ championship mentality will help the team compete in the MVC.
“I’ve believed the idea that winning is a habit. Having a coach that has won in the past [means] he knows what it takes to get there,” said Lindsley. “His drive to win is really going to rub off on us and it will help having that mentor.”
The players agree that Hoops’ coaching style, reputation and ties to Loyola make him a great fit for the Ramblers.
“He exemplifies everything you need as a coach on the course,” said Riner. “He helps you through putts, he provides a second opinion, and he keeps you committed through your shot … Because of his reputation at Loyola and his familiarity with the school and its athletic program, I think he will be a good fit.”
Hoops is expected to lead the Ramblers in the fierce MVC this spring. The women’s team opens its season on Feb. 8 in Simi Valley, California. The men’s team will tee-off on Feb. 15 in Santee, California.