PYEONGCHANG — There is a path from Point Pleasant, W.Va. to PyeongChang, South Korea. Just ask Jeff Hopson.
Hopson, who was born in Columbus, Ohio and currently lives in Hilliard, Ohio with his family, actually grew up in Point Pleasant and is a 1985 graduate of PPHS. However, last week, he was a cameraman for NBC Sports at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Hopson, who has a Bachelors Degree in Speech Broadcasting, explained he is an independent contractor and is hired out by the networks which are in need of camera operators for their particular broadcast.
“Most of my work comes from NBC Sports,” Hopson said.
Hopson explained he started out his career as a news photographer in Huntington, W.Va. at WOWK-TV and then moved to Columbus and worked at WCMH in the same position.
“I’ve always enjoyed photography and sports and being able to combine the two together is great,” he said. “I never imagined that almost 30 years ago while covering city council meetings that I would someday be traveling the world and covering some of the biggest sporting events there are. I’m very blessed.”
That career has led him to some unforgettable locations and memories behind the camera, so much so, it’s difficult for him to narrow those memories down into picking a favorite.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a few. I’ve worked Super Bowls, World Series games, the Indy 500, Kentucky Derby and the Olympics. It’s really hard to pick just one,” he said.
This is his second Olympics as a cameraman. This experience, along with his body of work, has led him to the winter games.
“Most of my work is with NBC Sports now and with that I’ve been able to establish relationships with directors and producers who in turn staff their broadcasts with technicians that they’ve worked with before and can trust to do what they’re looking for,” he explained. “This is actually my second Olympics that I’ve covered. My first was in Rio for the 2016 Summer Games. There I did opening ceremonies as well and covered diving.”
When asked about his most memorable professional moment behind the camera at the winter games, Hopson said: “Honestly, it’s covering the opening ceremonies. It’s such a grand stage where everyone is excited and truly happy in one place. I’m meeting people from all over the world. It’s such a great experience. After we’re done covering it you’re on such an adrenaline rush it takes a little time to come down from it.”
At this year’s opening ceremonies, Hopson was with Shaun White, the snowboarder, getting shots of him and talking with the gold medal winner. Hopson called White a “great guy” and, as for that whole opening ceremonies experience, “that was a lot of fun.”
In addition to covering opening ceremonies, Hopson was set to film interviews with American medal winners at the games. The opportunity to cover an event which has the world’s attention, is not lost on Hopson.
“It’s really an honor to be a part of the crew that gets to cover the Olympics,” he said. “It’s not lost on me at all what I’m getting to do. My dad has always told me to take a moment to stop and think about where I’m at and what I’m getting to do. I’ve taken that advice to heart especially on these big events like the Olympics.”
When it comes to his personal experience in South Korea, Hopson said there are several differences between that country and his former home state of West Virginia, but one big similarity.
“Well, it’s MUCH COLDER here,” he joked. “But honestly there are quite a bit of differences as you can imagine, the food, the culture itself but one thing really stands out that the two have in common are the people here are so friendly like the people of West Virginia. Very welcoming to visitors.”
Hopson is the son of Don and Alice Hopson of Knoxville, Tenn and said he still has many family members in Mason County. Friends from Point Pleasant have been following Hopson’s Olympic adventure on Facebook and wishing him well. He wanted to return the favor.
“Thanks (to friends from West Virginia) for all the warm wishes and telling me to be safe while here. Social media is great to stay in touch with classmates, friends and family and being able to share pics and my experiences from here. Its been fun to share this experience with them and just want to say thanks,” he added.
At the end of last week, Hopson was wrapping up his time in South Korea and heading home only to prepare to leave again for Mexico City to begin covering golf for NBC in two weeks. By the time this article prints, Hopson will be back in Hilliard with wife Amy and 14-year old daughter Jaelyn and 8-year old son Gehrig.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.