2007-07-03 / News

Kopelcheck wins hockey and lacrosse Cox Rhode Island Sports Awards

By Adrienne Downing

Will Kopelcheck Will Kopelcheck The Cox Rhode Island Sports Awards confirmed June 21 what fans of Prout hockey and lacrosse already knew, that Jamestown resident Will Kopelcheck is a great athlete.

Kopelcheck was nominated for and won the Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year award. He was also chosen from all of the spring athletes as the Male Spring Player of the Year.

"I was surprised to win because I know that both of the other players I was going up against for the lacrosse award are great players," Kopelcheck said.

He and fellow nominee, Kevin Corkery of St. George's, will attend St. Lawrence University together in the fall.

Lacrosse was actually a second sport for Kopelcheck when he was younger.

"I started playing hockey when I was 4," he said, adding, "but my dad was a lacrosse player and he gave me a stick. I started playing lacrosse when I was about 7 and I played both for awhile."

The demands of hockey finally gave way to his love for lacrosse and he took up the sport full-time in sixth grade, playing in an indoor league in Warwick.

"I always thought he would be a hockey player who would play lacrosse to appease me, but he ended up being a lacrosse player who played hockey to make me happy," said his father, Bill.

His hockey knowledge once again came into play when he began his freshman year at Prout.

"My lacrosse coach, David Oswinkle, was also the athletic director and he told me there was a brand new hockey program starting that year as a club sport and he thought I should play," Kopelcheck said.

The team went 0-18 their first year in the league, but Kopelcheck said he learned some important lessons from that season.

"Coach Gaffney was a great coach and he was very disciplined," he said. "He taught us to never take a cheap shot even if we were losing, and to have a positive attitude and play the best we can."

Kopelcheck went on to become the captain of the hockey team in his junior and senior years.

Gaffney, as an assistant coach, was also influential in Kopelcheck's lacrosse success along with assistant coach Tim Ryan and head coach Oswinkle.

"Coach Ryan really loved the game. He would bring his sneakers every day and be out there with us doing drills," he said.

Oswinkle, Kopelcheck said, is responsible for taking a team with only four players who had a good understanding of the game his freshman year and guiding them to two state championships during his high school career.

"He was my best mentor at Prout. The things he has done for the athletic program over there are amazing," Kopelcheck said. "We were not even really in the interscholastic league before, but now teams are expecting to go to the playoffs and win championships because of him."

During his three years as captain of the lacrosse team, Kopelcheck won second team All-Division honors his sophomore year and first team honors his junior and senior years.

His mom, Peggy, said one of the best things about her son is that he is very self-motivated.

"He is the player he is because he worked hard at it. We never had to tell him to go practice, he just did it," she said. "We never had to bug him about doing his homework, he was already working on it."

That motivation earned Kopelcheck Academic All-State honors, as well as a 3.8 grade point average.

With all of his honors and accolades, it would be easy for Kopelcheck to become a bit proud, but he remains a polite, humble and well-spoken representative of Jamestown.

"We are certainly proud of all he has accomplished," his parents said, "but most of all we are proud that he is an all-around nice kid."

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