Since becoming Auburn's head coach in 1999, Karen Hoppa has guided the program to seven SEC Western Division Championships and 12 NCAA Tournament berths over the past 15 seasons, including a current string of 13-straight appearances in the SEC Tournament and an NCAA Tournament appearance in seven of the last eight seasons. Her coaching since arriving on The Plains has turned Auburn into a force every season.
A head coach since 1993, she became the 51st women's soccer coach to reach 200 career wins and just the 10th female head coach to reach that milestone when Auburn claimed a 2-1 overtime win over Alabama in the final regular season match of 2010.
As illustrious as her 235 career wins are, one of her biggest coaching achievements came towards the end of the 2011 season when she guided Auburn to the SEC Tournament title and the league's automatic NCAA berth, the first ever won by an SEC Western Division team since the start of the league tournament in 1993.
With a career mark of 235-163-37 (.583) between her coaching stops at Auburn and UCF, Hoppa is the dean of the SEC West and has guided the program to a 172-120-28 (.538) mark since arriving on the Plains, the second-highest win total at a single SEC school by any current coach in the league.
The Tigers did not make the NCAA Tournament field in 2013, but Hoppa continued her streak of SEC Tournament appearances, stretching now to 13 years, going back to 2001. With six matches remaining in the regular-season, Auburn found themselves on the outside looking in, needing to record a point in each of the remaining matches to stay mathematically eligible for the postseason. The Tigers rattled off a win or a tie in each of the final six matches, which included three-straight ties, something Auburn had never done. The Orange and Blue made the 2013 SEC Tournament field and recorded a 1-0 win over LSU in overtime after a penalty kick found the back of the net from senior Bianca Sierra.
Hoppa guided the 2012 Tigers to yet another appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as Auburn advanced to the second round for the second consecutive season. Picked to finish third in the division in the preseason, the Tigers posted a 5-2-0 record against SEC West opponents for a second place finish. Hoppa worked her SEC Tournament magic yet again, leading the Tigers to the championship match for the fifth time.
Highlighting the 2012 season was senior goalkeeper Amy Howard. Howard ended the year leading the nation in minutes played (2298:56) and eighth in total saves (130). It marked the first time an Auburn player finished the year as a national leader in any statistical category.
Howard also set the school record for career saves at 387, breaking the mark of 356 set by Allison Whitworth (2005-08). Howard's 387 career saves are the second-most in SEC history.
Since the start of the 2001 season, two years after her arrival at Auburn, she has guided the program to 12 10-win seasons and an astounding 46-15-4 (.738) mark against SEC West teams.
Hoppa's teams are a model of athletic success on the field and academic success off it. A consistent post-season entrant, Auburn has advanced to the SEC Tournament 13 consecutive times, the third-longest active streak in the conference, while maintaining one of the highest team GPAs on the Auburn campus, collecting a NSCAA Team Academic Award for 10 straight years as over 65 percent of the 2011 team was on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Hoppa has also seen a trio of her players earn CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition in Katy Frierson (2011), Jenn Johnson (2007 & 2008) and Erin Hinson (2003) while Frierson was named the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2010.
Owning an eye for spotting talent and the ability to coach players to the best of their ability, Hoppa has helped five different players collect a total of 13 All-America honors, has coached 17 All-SEC First Team selections, 13 All-SEC Second Team selections, four SEC Players of the Year (Sarah Steinmann - 2002; Ronda Brooks - 2006; Julie King - 2011; Kala Faulkner - 2012), 10 All-SEC Freshmen and two SEC Freshmen of the Year (Megan Rivera - 2001; Frierson - 2008). There have also been 36 All-Region honors handed out to Auburn players during Hoppa's tenure.
Already one of the most dominant programs in the SEC, Hoppa's program took another step forward in 2011 as it became the first Western Division team to win the league's automatic bid, posting two shutouts in three wins en route to the SEC Tournament championship.
A second round NCAA Tournament appearance followed as the team tied the school record for wins in a season (15) and had the second-highest goal (50) and assist (61) totals in program history. It also capped the illustrious career of star Frierson, who left owning six school records and who also became just the fifth player in league history to be named First Team All-SEC all four years of her career. King also capped her career by being voted a SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Auburn's first since 2006.
The 2010 season saw Auburn win a seventh SEC Western Division Championship, the most by any school in the West as no other school has won more than four.
Finishing the year 11-8-2, 5-4-2 SEC, the club advanced to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection for a school-record fifth straight time. Again the accolades poured in at the end of the season as Frierson (eight goals, 12 assists, 28 points) and King (four goals, two assists, 10 points) were each named First Team All-SEC and defensive stalwart Sammy Towne was voted to the second team.
Frierson and King were also on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Team of the Season while Frierson was one of 15 players named to the semifinal list for the prestigious Hermann Trophy, a first for an Auburn student-athlete.
The 2009 season was the fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance as the team was selected as an at-large team for the dance. Riding the deft scoring touch of First Team All-SEC midfielder Frierson (five goals, 10 assists, 20 points) and Second Team All-SEC forward Rebecca Howell (eight goals, one assist, 17 points), the team racked up 109 points, the second straight season Auburn had tallied at least 100 points offensively.
With a high-octane offense pacing the team, the defense relied on the work of Second Team All-SEC defender Towne and SEC All-Freshman goalkeeper Amy Howard to limit its opponents to just 27 goals in 22 matches for a 1.16 goals against average.
After a run to the semifinals in the SEC Tournament for the first time since the 2005 team appeared in the finals, the team then traveled to Tallahassee, Fla., for the NCAA Tournament before bowing out to California in a 2-1 overtime loss, finishing the season 10-9-3, 6-5-0 SEC.
Hoppa guided Auburn to its sixth SEC West Title in the last eight seasons in 2008, earning the school's third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, and its second hosting opportunity, going 12-9-2 on the year, which included an incredible 9-3-0 mark at home and a 7-3-1 mark in conference play.
Freshman midfielder Frierson and senior goalkeeper Allison Whitworth both had historic seasons in 2008 as Frierson was named to the All-SEC First Team and the SEC Freshman of the Year while Whitworth was also named to the All-SEC First Team, was the conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was Auburn's first-ever WPS Draft pick.
Frierson led the team in goals (nine) and points (25) while Whitworth established school records for saves in a season (132) and a career (356) before the FC Gold Pride selected her in the eighth round of its draft in St. Louis, Mo.
The 2007 season produced Auburn's sixth NCAA Tournament trip with a 10-8-2 mark and a runner-up finish in the SEC West. Sophomore forward Caitlin King had one of the finest seasons in program history, collecting 13 assists and finishing the year with 23 points.
The 13 assists tied a school record while her 23 points ranked eighth all-time. Whitworth also continued to blossom under the watchful eye of Hoppa, tying the school record for saves (102) for a second consecutive season and finishing with a 1.16 goals against average, seventh-best at Auburn.
Hoppa moved into elite company in the sport of women's soccer when she won her 150th career match on September 3, 2006, against William & Mary in a year in which the Tigers reclaimed what had been theirs for four straight seasons but eluded them in 2005 - the SEC Western Division Title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Keyed by a defense that allowed just 14 regular-season goals, the Tigers marched onto yet another SEC West title - the fifth under Hoppa.
Leading the backline was SEC Defensive Player of the Year Ronda Brooks (the first from an SEC West school) while Whitworth played the entire season between the pipes, following in the footsteps of Hoppa as a tenacious goalkeeper and leader on the field.
Despite battling injuries to key players throughout the course of the 2005 season, Hoppa guided the Tigers to within one win of their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and Auburn's first SEC Tournament title.
Auburn knocked off third-seeded Florida and seventh-seeded Kentucky in the first two rounds of the conference tournament before losing a heart-breaker to top-seeded Tennessee, 1-0.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Hoppa's players had picked up the Tournament MVP award (Brooks) and three more all-tournament selections (Ashley Eason, Jada Stewart, Kristin Stewart) to go along with the regular-season selections of Brooks to the All-SEC First Team, Eason to the second team and Jenn Johnson to the all-freshman team.
In 2004, Hoppa led the Tigers to its only undefeated season in SEC play with an Auburn-best 9-0-2 record, the team's fourth-consecutive SEC West title and fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament.
The team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season, hosting the first and second rounds for the first time in school history at the Auburn Soccer Complex.
At the conclusion of the season, the Tigers found themselves ranked 19th in the NSCAA/adidas National Rankings and 13th in the final Soccer Buzz poll, the highest final ranking in school history.
Finishing out their senior seasons in 2004, Chrissy Culver, Megan Rivera, Sarah Steinmann and Jenn Walters each earned All-SEC honors and Rivera became the Tigers' first four-time All-American, owning every Auburn goalkeeper record and three SEC records at the conclusion of her career.
Hoppa led the Tigers to their first Southeastern Championship title in 2002, three seasons after the team finished at the bottom of the conference standings. For her efforts in leading the team to a school record 15-5-2 mark in 2002, she was named as the SEC Coach of the Year.
Hoppa helped lead her team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, which is also a feat never reached by an Auburn team. Early in the 2002 season, Hoppa achieved the 100th win of her career in a 4-0 win over South Alabama on Sept. 15.
In 2003, Auburn finished 14-4-3 on the year including a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament and ended the season with a No. 16 ranking. The ranking marked the first time Auburn was ranked at the conclusion of the season.
Hoppa kept busy away from Auburn as well in the summer of 2002. The head coaching veteran was named the United States National Team's Youth Goalkeeper Coordinator where her duties took her around the globe during the summer. Hoppa was a coach for the U19 National team in the inaugural FIFA Women's U19 World Championships helping lead the team, and 2004 Auburn senior Megan Rivera, to the World Championship title over host team Canada.
Hoppa led the Tigers to a 11-8-1 record in 2001, including an appearance in the championship match of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Among the 11 victories were upsets over No. 6 Virginia, No. 16 Tennessee and No. 19 Georgia. The Tigers also received their first-ever national ranking, reaching No. 19 at one point in the season.
In 2000, her second season at Auburn, Hoppa led the Tigers to a then school record 13-7-0 record with 11 newcomers, a solid group of returners and only two seniors. In 2000 Hoppa became just the 12th person to be inducted into the University of Central Florida Athletic Hall of Fame for her accomplishments as both an All-America goalkeeper and an academic All-American.
Her off-season accomplishments did not end there either. Hoppa was then asked to join the Under 18 United States National Team in Bulgaria for the Albena Cup, a full national team tournament. She accepted the invitation and served as an assistant and goalkeeper coach for the U.S. Team that lost on penalty kicks in the championship game.
Hoppa also added assistant regional coach to her resume in 2000. She led the U16 Regional Team to an undefeated mark on a tour of Germany, Holland, Belgium and France in April and then traveled to Rhode Island, as an assistant coach for the U16 and U18 National team at the U.S. Soccer Festival. She then served as an assistant coach at the National Camp in California for U17 and U18 teams.
Prior to her coming to Auburn, Hoppa served as UCF's head coach from 1993-1998 and spent 1991 to 1993 as an assistant coach for the Golden Knights. All told, Hoppa spent a total of 12 years at UCF as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach.
She led the program to two NCAA tournament appearances as a player, including a trip to the Final Four in 1987, five Trans America Athletic Conference titles and a trip to the 1998 NCAA Tournament as a coach.
Hoppa posted a 64-44-9 record at UCF, winning five TAAC titles including four in a row from 1993-96. In her final season at UCF, Hoppa guided the squad to a 12-8 mark and a perfect 4-0 in the Trans America Athletic Conference en route to the school's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1991. For her efforts, Richter (Hoppa) was named TAAC Coach of the Year.
Hoppa has also been very involved in the Olympic Development Program and various youth soccer programs in the United States. Prior to her appointment as the Region III head coach in February 2009, she spent two years as the assistant coach in the same Region.
In August of 2007, Hoppa took seven Alabama ODP players to Denmark to play in the Dana Cup in Hjorring, Denmark, with the Fortuna Club as she has been coaching the Alabama ODP team for the 1990 birth year for the past two seasons and has had four players selected to the Regional Pool and two to the National Pool.
In addition to her duties during the summer of 2002, she has spent time with the USYSA National teams, including preparing youth goalkeepers for international competition and assisting the team during the Adidas Cup in Orlando, Fla. From 1990 to 2001, Hoppa was also the head goalkeeper coach and regional staff coach for the USYS Region II ODP team.
A holder of a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) "A" coaching license, she served on the coaching staff of the Florida Youth Soccer Association from 1990 to 1999. In 1997 she was the head coach of the Florida Women's State Select team that won the Southern Regional.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Central Florida, Hoppa was an assistant for the Golden Knights for two seasons, 1991-93, and also served as an assistant for the nearby Lake Brantley High School boy's team during that same time.
Hoppa also served as an assistant for the girl's team at Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla., for two years (1989-91). The Lyman team won the state championship in Hoppa's second year.
Hoppa's success at Central Florida wasn't limited to the sidelines, however. She made a name for herself as a one of the greatest goalkeepers in UCF and NCAA history.
A three year starter from 1987-90, Hoppa allowed just 30 goals (0.594) in 48 career games in assisting her squads to a 43-13-7 record during her tenure. During her four years, Central Florida made two NCAA appearances, advancing to the Final Four in 1987 and the quarterfinals in 1988. Her 30 goals allowed, 0.594 goals against average, and 30.5 shutouts are still UCF career records.
As a senior, Hoppa was named the 1990 Adidas/ISAA Goalkeeper of the Year, the NCAA Goalkeeper of the Year and was a finalist for the Hermann Award. She helped UCF to a 9-4-3 record, including a 2-2 tie with national power North Carolina.
As a junior, she was named to the 1989 Soccer America MVP Team after leading Central Florida to a 11-1-2 record. In 14 games, her team posted 11 shutouts and allowed just four goals all season.
An excellent student as well, Hoppa graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in psychology, a 3.7 grade point average, and was a finalist as a senior for the prestigious Honda Award. She was also recognized as an Adidas/ISAA Scholar-Athlete during her junior and senior years.
During her collegiate career Hoppa was inducted into several national honor societies including Golden Key, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Psi Chi. She also served on the 1991 College Student-Athlete Project: Women and Athletics Sub-Committee.
A three-sport standout at Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Ill., Hoppa earned All-America soccer honors and was a member of the National Youth Team in 1986. The Naperville native was also a member of the United States Olympic Festival's North squad in both 1987 and 1990. Along with her soccer success, Hoppa also competed on the softball and basketball squads.
In 1997 Hoppa returned to the field as a player, as a member of the Tampa Bay Extreme, a member of the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues (USISL) "W League."
For two seasons, Hoppa was the starting goalkeeper for the Extreme. Hoppa is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and served as a volunteer club coach with the Seminole Soccer Club for five years (1989-93). She was a member of the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee (1995-97) and also served on the NSCAA Division I Women's Soccer Southeast Ratings Board (1996-98).
Hoppa (formerly Richter) married Scott Hoppa on Dec. 14, 2002. The couple resides in Opelika, Ala., have a daughter, Bailey (2).