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'Jim changed the course of my life': Riders' CEO Craig Reynolds reflects on Jim Hopson's impact


After the news former Saskatchewan Roughriders President and CEO Jim Hopson passed away earlier this week – current President and CEO Craig Reynolds is reflecting on the impact Hopson left on not only him – but the entire CFL family.

“The Riders lost someone who helped change the course of history for our team. On a personal level, Jim changed the course of my life, bringing me back to Saskatchewan and for that I’m forever grateful,” Reynolds said during a media availability Thursday.

Hopson was the first President and CEO of the team and held the positions from 2005-2015. Reynolds succeeded Hopson in his roles after serving as the club’s Chief Financial Officer.

“I met Jim for the first time when I interviewed for the Chief Financial Officer position with the club. Right from the moment I met him, I thought ‘This is somebody I want to work with and work for’ and was extremely excited and grateful,” he reflected.

Reynolds said Hopson’s passion for the team was always evident.

“He was so great [when I took over] because he was just here. He wasn’t overbearing. He wasn’t ‘You should do it this way’. He was just there to bounce ideas off of. I wish I could remember a specific nugget of advice. He might have said ‘Don’t screw it up’ in that Jim way,” he laughed. “But one thing I do remember is him saying ‘Just be yourself.’”

“I love this team so much and saw obviously that Jim loved this team so much. He was someone I could learn a great deal from and someone I would enjoy coming to work with every single day,” Reynolds added.

The Roughriders recently held a small gathering to honour Hopson when they announced the naming of the ‘Jim Hopson Auditorium.’

The Auditorium serves as the presentation area for the organization and where the players gather during the football season to study film.

“We had a chance to honour Jim a few weeks ago. He changed the course of this club forever. He’s the first to admit he didn’t do it alone,” Reynolds explained. “The board made a courageous decision to hire Jim in the first place. They certainly hired the right person. He brought a belief that this club could be great and could be what it is today, No matter how many accolades we bestow upon him, it’s still not enough to thank him or what he did and the leadership he showed throughout his tenure here.”

Saskatchewan Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds speaks to media on April 4, 2024. (Brit Dort/CTV News)

One memory Reynolds reflected on was the Riders loss at the 97th Grey Cup in 2009.

Infamously known for the 13th man controversy – the dying seconds of the game saw the green and white called for having too many men on the field as a 33 yard field goal attempt by Montreal sailed wide.

The call gave the Allouettes a second shot and ultimately cost the Riders the Grey Cup that year.

“I remember seeing Jim after the ‘09 Grey Cup loss and he was leaned up against the fence and really upset and then I probably talked to him an hour later and he said ‘We’ll be back,’” Reynolds recalled.

“That was just how he was. He was just always positive.”

Hopson’s words eventually proved to be true when they sealed the victory at home in 2013.

“I think it comes down to the people and the belief he had in people. He grew the organization at a time when I think it needed to grow,” Reynolds said. “He hired good people and he just believed in them and let them do their things and that’s on the football side as well. He treated the players really well, treated the coaches really well. And when you treat people really well, they want to deliver for you and they want to be successful.”

In lieu of flowers, Jim's wife, Brenda Hopson said donations could be made to the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation, the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation, or Regina Minor Football.

Reynolds' final message on Thursday was about his friendship with Hopson.

“I’m going to miss my friend just going to miss being able to talk to him and reach out to him,” he said, tearing up.

“He was always there.”

Hopson was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2021. He was 73. Top Stories

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