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Courtney Coppersmith Leading On And Off The Field At UMBC

(Photo by UMBC Athletics)

The UMBC Retrievers had not made the NCAA tournament since 2002—that is, until Courtney Coppersmith came to town.

Coppersmith exploded onto the college softball scene her freshman season in 2019, breaking an America East Conference record by winning Rookie of the Year and Pitcher of the Year in the same campaign. She also was the first Retriever to be named an All-American and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the America East Championship, where she went 4-0 with two no-hitters and only two runs allowed in 28 innings with 33 strikeouts.

Coppersmith also threw five no-hitters during the 2019 regular season, including a perfect game, and set school records for strikeouts in one season, strikeouts in one game, shutouts in one season and lowest opponent batting average in one season.

One could argue that pales in comparison to what she did during the shortened 2020 season, when she only allowed one earned run over 37 innings and finished the season with a 0.19 ERA. Those numbers were good enough for the number one ranking in all of D1. To top it off, she hit .371 in 2020.

According to Coppersmith, what has worked so well for her in the circle has a lot to do with her approach.

“What has worked well for me is trying to keep the batters off balance,” Coppersmith said. “It’s the process of hoping that they expect something other than what I plan on throwing and mixing pitches up enough that they have to guess what is coming next.”

When she looks back on her love for softball, the York, Pa. native gives a lot of credit to her dad. As for her mom, Coppersmith says she played a big part in helping to choose the right university for her.

“Her biggest fear was that my academics would fall into the background,” Coppersmith said. “But here, academics are more important than your status as an athlete because at the end of the day, you are a student first. It also helps that UMBC is ranked high up there in academics and research, presenting me with excellent opportunities to succeed.”

However, with the pressure of both academics and athletics facing her, the workload and stress can be intense. Coppersmith has been open about her battle with depression during her time at UMBC, which she ended up writing an essay about.

Her essay won first place in the Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers Contest, and has reached thousands of viewers to date thanks to a video created by the America East Conference about it.

“It’s hard to believe that an essay I wrote in the presence of a friend and a coach to relieve some of the pressure I kept within has become so impactful and has reached so many people,” Coppersmith said. “Mental health is something that is underestimated and downplayed in our society today, but especially with student-athletes.”

Coppersmith’s hope is that her story can resonate in the minds and hearts of those who need to hear it most.

“My story, and the video my conference created, while it was hard to say, hopefully helped at least one person know that they are not alone and hopefully gave them some ways to fight through it because once you can change your outlook and surroundings, miraculous things can happen,” Coppersmith added.

In addition to all that she has offered UMBC Athletics and its softball team, along with her messages about the importance of mental health to student-athletes everywhere, Coppersmith has also had an impact on the city of Baltimore. She has mentored elementary school students in the city, and with her team has worked with the Special Olympics and served those living in shelters.

“While I know sometimes life can drop a lot on you at a time, when you see the smile of a kid who is so excited that you are there, all of that fades away,” said Coppersmith. “They can grab a whole section of your heart and while you have helped change them, they have helped you become a better person as well.”

chris kuhlmeyer photo courtesy of umbc athletics.jpg

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