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From Cleats to Cap and Gown

Ashley Kopczyk takes off her cleats and prepares for the future

By Tara Woodin

Between classes, social engagements and leaving home for the first time, finding balance at college is a lot for any student. The added commitment of practices, games and other obligations of a student athlete can be overwhelming. Senior political science major and Honor Court President Ashley Kopczyk just completed her fourth and final season as Agnes Scott’s only soccer goalie. She says finding ways to balance everything in her life can be difficult at times, but soccer has helped her in every aspect of her college experience.

Growing up, Ashley Kopczyk never had any plans of playing soccer in college. She didn’t start playing until she was well into grade school. 

“She refused to play soccer as a little kid because I played,” said her mom, Kristin Kopczyk. “It was something I liked, and she wanted to do her own thing. She got out there because her brother started playing soccer and she didn’t want to feel left out. She started out knowing nothing. She has come a long way.”

Once she got started, she immersed herself. She started working as a referee as a high school freshman as an easy way to make money while watching the sport she loved. Her junior year of high school an Agnes Scott soccer coach recruited her from her Chicago suburbs hometown of Elgin, Illinois.  

With the generous scholarships, and the first-year global journey program, Kopczyk was drawn to Agnes Scott College. She left her family for the first time to travel across the country to Agnes Scott, where she would spend the next four years being a powerhouse athlete, student and sister. 

“It was a little heartbreaking she was going so far,” said Kristin. “But Agnes Scott has helped her gain confidence and independence to become the woman that she is. It’s been great for her.”

She had plans to go even further from home during her global journeys trip  in spring 2020 but those plans were derailed by COVID. However, she was able to use a different Agnes-associated program to go to the University of Vienna in Austria over the summer before her senior year. 

“My roommate and I went,” Kopczyk said. “We did international refugee law, history since 1815 and law and information. It solidified that I want to go to law school next year. I always knew that I wanted to go but I didn’t know if I’d want to take on the financial investment. But taking those law classes showed me it’s what I wanted to do in the next stage of my life.”

Off the field, she has steadily worked to get herself prepared for law school by studying for the LSATS and interning with Dekalb County Superior Court.  Now that the soccer season is over, she wants to become more involved with them and continue working with them during the spring semester. She said that after law school, she wants to practice family law.

“I like working with real people,” Kopcyzk said. “I’ve never been interested in working for a corporation or a big company. I’ve just always been interested in working with everyday people, like problems that impact a person’s life.”

Whatever the future holds for Ashley Kopzcyk, the work she has put in during her time at Agnes Scott is just the beginning of her efforts to continue to accomplish her goals.

“Soccer has definitely helped me develop time management skills,” Kopczyk said. “You have to be good at time management when you’re a D3 athlete and a full-time student. It’s also helped me in working with others. I’m not good at group work but playing soccer forced me to learn how to work with others.”

Although Agnes Scott marks the end of Kopczyk’s athletic career, she plans to continue to referee and play in the occasional pickup game. And she’ll, of course, always be a Scottie.

“I’m super proud of her for all of her accomplishments in what she’s achieved so far,” said Kristin Kopczyk. “I look forward to her future.”

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