On the surface they may look like three simple pieces of metal – but to Chris Hopkins, the three state championship rings he earned as Highland Park wrestler are much more.
“What do they mean to me?” said Hopkins. “Years of blood, sweat, and tears. I remember that time of my life. I was searching for something to push me as a man and I got that when I joined the team.”
Saturday marked the first time he’d seen them in seven years. He says they went missing at a party back in 2008.
That same year, Carrollton Police arrested a woman on drug charges – and found the rings in her car.
They contacted Highland Park High School back then in hopes of returning the rings to Hopkins, but it had already been five years since he’d graduated and the school had a new wrestling coach. The rings have sat in the Carrollton Police Department’s evidence division ever since.
“When they went missing I was like I’ll never see these again, no chance,” said Hopkins. “I went ahead and made peace with that.”
Fast forward to the present – and officers recently came across the rings while they doing an inventory of their evidence division. They decided to try looking for Hopkins once again – and this time, they found him.
Hopkins’ old wrestling coach, Tim Marzuola, had returned to Highland Park and knew how to get in touch with Hopkins’ brother.
“My brother called me a couple of weeks ago and he was like, hey, do you happen to be missing three championship wrestling rings?” said Hopkins. “I was like no way they found them!”
Marzuola was on hand Saturday when police returned the rings to Hopkins.
“I think it was more than a break,” said Marzuloa. “I think it was divine intervention.”
A grateful Hopkins says he won’t let the rings out of sight again.
“Thank you so much for helping me get these back,” he told the officers.
Hopkins is now a teacher in the Austin area. He says he plans to wear all three rings when he returns to school on Monday.