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Campbell’s Caleb Hopkins Is A Master Motivator | UFC Fight Pass

Alaskan Wrestler Turned Campbell Camel, Caleb Hopkins Looks Back At A Time Where He Went Deep Undercover To Motivate Teammates Ahead Of UFC FIGHT PASS’s Battle At Bragg

Sometimes you have to go deep undercover to motivate teammates, as Campbell University’s Caleb Hopkins knows.

Growing up in Alaska, Hopkins didn’t have the ability to load up the car and drive to the Midwest or Northeast to test himself in the thick of the action. The remote nature of Alaska is what makes it beautiful, as well as confining, but if you have the will to win of Hopkins or the will to win Hopkins secretly plants in your brain, you’ll find a way to wrestle your way into a D-1 program.

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For the majority of his high school career, Hopkins and the rest of Alaska would look to the popular ranking service AKMat for the rankings across the state. Every village, every town, every city was accounted for. Unfortunately, heading into his senior year, Hopkins heard the site was shutting down and the resource would no longer be available.



But a new one would be.

The goal with the Instagram page was to gain more followers than the Team Alaska page, which seemed very possible due to the traction Hopkins’ page was starting to gain.



Wrestlers on the team knew of the page, coaches knew of the page, and parents knew of the page, but as much as people referred to it after meets, nobody knew where it was all coming from.



“It was anonymous for a very long time, and still, most people in Alaska don’t know who runs it,” Hopkins said.



The IG page was beginning to turn ugly. The early decision to keep himself publicly removed from the rankings proved to be a wise one when the comments started flooding in.

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“There was some cyber bullying that was happening on the page and my dad wanted to catch who was running the page so I couldn’t tell him who it was,” Hopkins explained. “I was scared of my dad. I really didn’t want to get in trouble, so I went and deleted all of the comments that were going to get people in trouble, and basically told everyone that they can’t cyberbully on the page.”



It was becoming a bit of a hassle keeping the secret, as well as keeping it hidden from everybody, but Hopkins was noticing results from the page beyond what he had intended. What started as a way to convince all his opponents he was an underdog was turning into much more. Hopkins was finding ways to manipulate the work ethic of those around him.

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“Sometimes I would put my teammates really low under guys they’d beaten before just to get them mad,” Hopkins said. “One of my brother’s best friends in high school I’d consistently rank low, and by his senior year he ended up winning a state championship and he DMed the Instagram page and said, ‘Hey, I just want to thank you because by you ranking me super low you motivated me to work harder.’”



The evil genius began worming his way into the brains of his teammates and figuring out what would get them going in the practice room. Wrestlers with egos that needed to be boosted may climb in the rankings, while more emotional wrestlers would be given lower rankings than they deserved to grow the chip on their shoulder.

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The IG page served its purpose, but with only one year to work with, all good things had to come to an end. Hopkins went the whole season without anybody but his brothers knowing he was behind the controversial rankings. He handed it off to his brothers when he left for college and finally revealed it to a few close friends.



Not known for his poker face, Hopkins dropped jaws when he revealed the truth.

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Long after his reign of the page had ended, his dad finally found out, and the website has since largely gone dormant. It never did reach the level of followers that AKMat had, but it served its purpose, and it still has around 350 followers to date. And best of all, he didn’t get in trouble.



“When my dad finally found out, it wasn’t too bad; he’s a levelheaded guy,” Hopkins said. “When the cyber bullying was going on he was pretty upset, but it had been like a year, year-and-a-half when he found out. To this day, I honestly don’t know how he found out. He just texted me and my brothers and said, “Guys, these rankings are so bad, you got to do better.” I‘ve tried to ask him how he found out, but he won’t tell me.”

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The fear ran deep enough that on his recruitment visit Hopkins told former coach Cary Kolat about the page, but his laughter was cut short so he could make sure to tell Kolat not to tell his mom.



Kolat and the Camels saw something they liked in him, as well as the heir to the IG page. Both he and his brother Levi have made a collegiate career out of wrestling for Campbell, and you still never quite know how Hopkins plans to motivate those around him like he did in high school.



Catch Battle At Bragg Friday, November 11, LIVE from the historic Fort Bragg, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!