From a Copperhead to a Piper, Brooke Chapman, no matter the mascot, will be continuing her playing career while following her passion in the classroom.
Chapman, the Copperheads’ all time winningest pitcher not to mention career strikeout and ERA record holder, has agreed to join the Hamline University softball team under head coach Jim Rubbleke starting in the fall of 2013.
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to not only continue playing the game I love, but also get the chance to pursue my degree,” Chapman said, who will be chasing after a bachelors in psychology at Hamline with the eventual goal of earning her masters in clinical psychology.
After a campus visit during this softball season, Rubbleke informed Champman of her status on the team and how they could use her right away, according to the outgoing Copperhead senior.
“He told me I’d be in line to play right away, and that’s more than I could ever ask for,” Chapman said, who added she will be included into the pitching rotation as well as being used as a hitting presence as well. ”(Hamline) is a great fit for me because it allows me to continue playing while also offering exactly what I want in terms of my studies. I’ve always been a student first, and this choice for me was no different.”
Chapman has been a four-year starter for the Copperheads, leading them to their first-, second- and third-consecutive state tournament appearances in her frosh through junior years (2010-12) capped by a Southwestern A conference championship last season – all firsts for the school in competitive girls’ softball. This season, Chapman led the Copperheads to a 4-4 conference record and 9-10-1 overall mark during a brutally tough schedule to notch the fourth-straight state tournament appearance and No. 3 seed out of the Southwestern A.
“Sooner or later, somebody was going to see our progress as a team,” said head coach Dotsie Shafer, who has been with the softball program as an assistant and head coach since its inception. “(Brooke) is one of the better ones to have come through here. I think she will do well, she’s very coachable and adapts to her surroundings.”
Maybe this year’s finish was a little below the expectations of Chapman and her teammates, however the competition in the conference is the best in some time. Nonetheless, Anaconda remains a solid dark horse for a possible place on the medal stand after it’s all said and done.
Chapman has earned a school record 31 wins (31-37) for the Copperheads, who just so happened to have never finished dead last in any softball season before her class arrived at Anaconda High. This year, she broke her school record in Ks (116 set in 2012), and has 118 with still at least two game remaining. Leading up to the weekend, Chapman has thrown an amazing 7,148 pitches wearing the Blue and Silver, and 4,396 have been strikes (61 percent of the time Chapman is in the strike zone). She also has allowed a nice ratio of walks to hits allowing 216 walks and 457 hits during her four years. This year, she’s almost cut her walks allowed in half from any other year, allowing just 32 free passes this season versus a career high 58 as a freshman. All told, her school record 433 strikeouts to date is a mark that may never be approached again.
Her work ethic is like no other, giving up other sports (such as basketball, where she was a team leader in points and rebounds) in order to focus on the game she thought would correlate into a college playing career. And that extensive work has paid off.
“It is extremely fulfilling to see her achieve the goal she set when she was 8-years-old,” said her father and lifelong coach,Tod Chapman, who also doubles as her pitching coach for the Copperheads. ”Her work ethic has earned her the opportunity to play collegiately.”
And knowing that his daughter can parlay her ability on the diamond into getting a quality education like the one offered at Hamline is just the icing on top of an already flavorful cake.
“With Brooke, education was always the primary driver,” Tod said. ”When she was looking at colleges, she would only look at schools that were rated academically selective. It did not matter how they ranked in softball. It made picking a school much easier for all of us.”
Hamline is an NCAA Division III school and member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). It is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is the oldest and first established university in the state according to the Web site.
Because of the distance from home to Hamline, some 1,098 miles according to mapquest.com, not being able to watch Brooke play – something which has never been called into question as her coach and confidant - is going to be a bit of an adjustment.
“It will be difficult, but Hamline University is working on webcasting all their home games, so that will help,” Tod said. “This summer, as they did last summer, both Brooke and her younger sister, Delanie, will be playing for a team that travels all over the west. While they are playing out of state, I coach my youngest, Erin, around the state. So I only get phone updates on how the games went. Hopefully this experience will help make the transition easier, but I am not counting on it.”
Still, seeing his little girl blossom into the school’s best ever chucker and now a collegiate player due primarily to his dedication to teaching her every aspect of the game – both mechanically and fundamentally - is extremely fulfilling, even if he and his wife, Shawna, will lose a bit of the day-to-day interaction.
“Shawna and I believe she is ready to move on to the next adventure in her life,” he said. ”She has always been mature beyond her years and after our trip to Hamline, we are comfortable with her decision. We expect great things for her, both academically and athletically, but more importantly we believe this is a great opportunity for her to grow.”
Below is a timeline of photos from Brooke as a freshman through her junior year. Congrats on the accomplishment kiddo! We know you will make us extremely proud in Anaconda. Once a Copperhead, always a Copperhead!
Brooke pitches to a Havre batter in the 2010 Class A State tournament in Billings
Brooke as a sophomore for the Copperheads in 2011
Brooke tosses a pitch during the 2012 State tournament at Charlotte Yeoman Martin Sports Complex against Livingston. Photo courtesy R. Dean Hendrickson