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Remembering Julius Poppinga


On Wednesday Aug. 30, 2023, WHS lost an important member of the Warrior family: Julius Poppinga ‘25. He was a caring individual and valued member of the varsity football and JV lacrosse teams.
“I know all his teammates loved him,” said friend Leah Kainen ‘25. “I know he’d make practice a lighter place, a more fun place — something people could look forward to, and he just loved messing with people and making peoples’ days better.”

Julius was typically seen with a smile on his face, always there to lighten the mood when it was too serious or gloomy.

“He was a jokester,” said friend Tahirih Vahdat ‘25. “He was definitely the person you would go to class [with], [and] he was the reason why class was fun. It was like him and another person making jokes and making everyone laugh.”

Julius was known as a friendly, encouraging person by his peers. He would go out of his way to uplift others when they were unhappy.

“He was a really compassionate person,” said Vahdat. “He’d always ask [things] like how your day was, [or] ‘what’s new and exciting?’ He had the biggest heart of anyone I’d ever met.”

Whether it be competing for varsity football or JV lacrosse, Julius was a competitive athlete. His seemingly indestructible and positive mentality corresponded with utmost athletic performance. On the football team, he was known as a dominant defensive linebacker.

“Man, he always brought his 100% best effort,” said Theron Labib ‘25, friend and fellow JV lacrosse teammate. “He was a crazy athlete [and] a great leader. On the sports field, he always had a positive impact on everything he did. It was 100% effort, and he [did] it correctly all the time.”

Team photo of the 2023 WHS varsity football offensive and defensive lines.

His positive mindset and caring personality continually influenced his teammates, helping them maximize their potential both on and off the field.

“One of my favorite memories [was when] we used to go to the YMCA,” said Will McLane ‘25, friend and fellow varsity football and JV lacrosse teammate. “We used to play seven–on–seven football and go and get food [after] and see how fast we could eat our burgers. He was really caring. He always wanted to see how I was feeling and how my day was going. He always used to talk about my future and see how I could progress and … what I could do to be a better person.”

He wasn’t solely athletically focused, though, as he also firmly valued academics. He transferred his athletic work ethic into his school work, all the while upholding a positive mindset that encouraged those around him to follow suit.

“He just always wanted to make his friends proud and his parents [proud], and I think he did,” said Kainen. “He just wanted people to not take things so seriously and to try really hard in school. Although he messed around all the time, he was excited for his classes. He’d always push to be the best at whatever he did.”

Although Julius has passed, his legacy will continue to live on. Throughout the Warrior community, he has influenced some of his friends and peers to live by his ethics, including his academic and athletic mindset of giving forth his absolute best effort while simultaneously maintaining a positive, uplifting personality.

Varsity captain Jayson Brattin ‘25 and Julius Poppinga ‘25 kick back at the annual football summer sleepover. (Photo Courtesy of Poppinga Family )

“Julius was a great friend, and everyone should strive to be like him — always 100% effort, always uplifting other people [and] never putting other people down,” said Labib. “On the sports field I’m going to give 100% effort, and everything I do is going to be for him.”

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About the Contributors
Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas, Co-Editor-In Chief
he/him This is my third year on The Arrow staff. I am Co-Editor in Chief of the print issue.  Previously I was the Sports Section editor. I enjoy the freedom we have to write about what Students at WHS are interested in. In my spare time, I run cross country for Westlake and binge watch movies and TV shows. I am a Marvel and Star Wars fanatic. Something interesting about me is that my favorite meal combo is Mountain Dew with chocolate–covered pancakes.
Grace Hefner
Grace Hefner, Co-Editor-In Chief
Co-Editor in Chief,  she/her Hi! I’m Grace Hefner. I am Co-Editor in Chief of The Arrow and this is my third year on the staff. Previously, I was the Sports Section Editor and News Section Editor. I love being on the Arrow staff because everyone is so supportive and talented, and it is super interesting getting to report about what is happening in the world. Inside the journalism classroom, you will find me complaining to Allison about page designs and InDesign. However, outside of the classroom, you will find me  listening to the music taste of a 45–year–old father.  I am also a certified lifeguard and swim instructor and love being able to teach important life skills to children!
Allison Tieu
Allison Tieu, Co-Editor-In Chief
Hi! I’m Allison Tieu. I was the former Feature Section Editor , and I am currently the Co-Editor-in-Chief. This is my third year on The Arrow staff. I enjoy journalism because I love the freedom of creativity it gives you and the process of creating the newspaper and putting everything together. In my free time, I love to read, play the violin, play video games and listen to music.
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