Moultonborough's Kelsey Coppinger helped lead the MA soccer team to its first-ever postseason victory last fall. The three-sport star was busy during her four-year varsity career. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
July 29, 2015MOULTONBOROUGH — If you're looking for a lynchpin, a common thread between success for the Moultonborough Academy athletic program, look no further than Kelsey Coppinger.
After playing three sports for four years at MA, Coppinger graduated this spring with plenty of athletic successes on her resume. It's no surprise that during her senior year, she served as captain for both the soccer and basketball teams, and she also helped guide the softball team to a Division IV runner-up finish in June. What made Coppinger such an obvious choice to serve as a leader for her respective teams this year?
"I don't get pushed around by people," she admitted. "I'm not going to take someone not giving the team 100 percent. But I'm always positive about it though. I'll encourage them instead of discourage them. I feel like it made me try harder. I always tried to give 100 percent no matter what because I knew people were looking up to me. It helped me become a better leader."
Coppinger will take those lessons she learned as a captain and leader to Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y. this fall. She'll study mathematics and computer science at the city school, a much different locale than the comfy confines of Moultonborough, New Hampshire.
"I've grown up in Moultonborough and it's so small so I'm really excited for the challenge," said Coppinger of New York City. "I've always loved the city. I've only been to New York City like three times but every time it's been great. I'm ready for a change and not having everyone know what I'm doing and what my life is like and all of that."
Coppinger made her presence felt all over the MA athletic department. A three-sport standout, she helped the soccer team to its first-ever playoff win this fall before being knocked out in the quarterfinals. In the winter, the point guard led the basketball team to another postseason appearance. She saved the best for last however, as the second baseman and the softball team marched all the way to Plymouth and earned a spot in the state title game before falling to top-seeded Sunapee.
"It definitely felt like everything I've worked for the past four years finally came together," she said of the softball run. "I've wanted (to reach the finals) every single season of every single year and it's never happened so it was amazing."
Expectations were high for the Panthers entering the season, and they certainly delivered by making the impressive run.
"We only lost one senior so we were all still connected from the year before," she explained. "I could definitely feel it was going to be a big year, especially being me and Jordan's (Hough) last year. I think everybody on the team was a leader. There's not a single person that wouldn't do what they were supposed to do on that team. We're all so competitive and wanted to win."
Getting over the hump and breaking the soccer 'curse' this fall was also a special feeling for Coppinger. The Panthers put it all together to win in exciting fashion in the Division IV preliminary round, taking the victory in penalty kicks after two periods of overtime didn't solve anything. Coppinger credited the assistance of fellow senior midfielder Elaine Velie with helping her guide the program into postseason success.
"I just feel like me and Elaine were on varsity together since freshman year and we stepped up as leaders because we had played together all the years," she explained. "I think it helped to tie the team together as we were the two midfielders in the center of all the action. But I've always loved soccer and it was awesome to be a part of this season where we finally broke through and won a playoff game."
Coppinger's four years with the basketball program certainly saw a bit of change. MA had four different coaches in those four years, and she took over the point guard reigns her sophomore year after beginning as a freshman on JV.
"I really like basketball a lot. I just think I'm better at soccer and softball so I always gravitated to those sports a little bit more," she explained. "But I definitely enjoy basketball a lot. I like playing defense, I like the constant back and forth of the game. And I like being a point guard because I like being able to bring the ball up and call the plays and be a leader out there. I like having control of the game."
The busy Coppinger also found time to take on the role of Class President during her senior year. She said the three-sport commitment took up a lot of her high school time, but she enjoyed the challenge of having to balance it all on top of her school load.
"I think college will be even more time management but I think playing two hours a day for every sport helped me manage my time," she explained. "I think some people want to be really good at one thing and try and be at the top of it. I did basketball AAU and gymnastics all year round but I think three sports gives you a good variety of teammates and coaches and that's more helpful than specializing in one sport."
One thing is for certain, the athletic landscape for the girls' athletic programs at MA will look much difference without Kelsey Coppinger in the lineup this school year.