CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.–Straight out of Whitwell and into the Scenic City, sophomore Alyssa Coppinger is standing out on the softball field for the the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs this season. .
And like a lot of softball players, Coppinger has called the diamond home for ages.
“I was in a diaper league when I was about three years,” Coppinger said. “That’s when I was first introduced to the game, and I have been out there ever since.”
Coppinger credits the origins of her hardworking spirit to her dad, who introduced her to life of the diamond.
“My dad has always coached me since I was little,” said Coppinger. “He showed me how to do my best and give everything I have in any circumstances. He’s always there for me whenever I battle with anything in life no matter if it’s sports, school, or life in general. I can always count on my dad to talk motivate and advise me through my problems.”
Upon playing her freshman season, Coppinger admits to struggling but feels that it only strengthens her going forward.
“I mean it was definitely a learning experience, but I loved it,” said Coppinger. “It was different from high school and travel ball. It was a struggle, but it was fun. I got to meet a lot of great new people.”
There wasn’t many time slots left after a full slate of softball, but Coppinger found a way to make due, transitioning to another level of softball.
“Having to wake up at 5:30 every morning and always having something to do throughout the week is challenging,” Coppinger said. “I definitely learned time management for sure because it is a big part trying to juggle school, games, weight training, and everything else.”
When she does find a spare moment, though, Coppinger spends it following her other passion: Crime. In fact, she’s a Criminal Justice major at UTC.
“Watching the crime scene shows, even though they are exaggerated, it drew me in to wanting to do things like that,” said Coppinger. “Once I graduate I’m leaning towards a career in the autopsy area, like a body examiner. I’m not sure, but that’s what I’m leaning towards for now. “
On the field–after a great rookie season where she recorded 50 Putouts–the 5’5 center fielder admits that her best could be yet to come
“I gave my all last season, but I don’t think I played as good as I could have,” said Coppinger. “I was still adjusting to the grind; I think I have improved now that I’m a Sophomore. This fall season, so far, has been a lot better than last year I’ve learned what to do and what not to do.”
The physical ability and talent of Division I athletes like Coppinger, often times, aren’t what they’d like to improve. Their weakest like, sometimes, can be locked up in their cranium.
“Sometimes I can get in my head like my mental game,” Coppinger said. “that has always been my biggest struggle, just like with anyone. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still struggle from time to time. I continue to work on my mental game every day by talking to old coaches for reassurance or reading books dedicated to improving and sustaining one’s mental game.”
Still, Coppinger has the backing of a team she hopes to lead on in the coming seasons.
“I try to be vocal on the field to help everyone,” said Coppinger. “I also try take in what anyone has to say to me. I just try to help the team be better, like I try to always give my all at practice, in the weight room, or on the field, so my teammates can look at me and do the same thing.
“Everybody is just beautiful inside and out, and they work so hard,” said Coppinger. “We are all always there for each other all day every day on the field, in the classroom, just anywhere we are a family.”
Coppinger is her biggest critic and feels she can always do more to improve her game.
“I would like to get more extra,” Coppinger said. “I mean I always do extra, but instead of doing extra at practices, I want to do extra outside of practice to improve my game.”
Coppinger is hopeful for the future and would love to return to Whitwell High School and coach one day. As for now she offers advice when she can.
“I always tell little girls them never give up, if you think you can do it, do it,” said Coppinger. “Always work hard and if you put your mind to it you can do it. They should always keep their minds on the prize, they can do anything if they stay focus.”
Coppinger has big expectations for herself and her team to improve their record when their season starts in February.
“I expect that we just go out and give it all we have,” Coppinger said. “Play with heart, be dedicated, go out and play how we know how to play.”
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