INDIANAPOLIS--Every week, Cam Fuller talks with a Horizon League student-athlete who exemplifies integrity and excellence in both the classroom and on their respective playing field. This week, Fuller caught up with senior cross country runner Louisa Coppola of Detroit. Coppola is off to a strong start to her final campaign, winning the first two races of the season and also setting a personal-best 5K time.
Meet Louisa Coppola
Hometown: Warren, Mich.
High School: Warren Woods Tower
Other College: Macomb Community College
Sport: Cross Country
Prior to Detroit
-Member of the Macomb Community College cross country team during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
-Two-time NJCAA All-American for the Monarchs.
-Named to the NJCAA Academic All-American Cross Country Team.
-Named First Team All-League by virtue of her fifth-place finish at the 2012 Horizon League Cross Country Championships.
-First Titan since 2005 to place in the top-five at the League Championships.
-Led the Titans in five of the six races she competed in during the 2012 season.
-Member of the Detroit Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.
2013 Season Highlights
-Opened the season with a victory at the Golden Grizzly Open. Her 4K time of 15:17.5 topped Sammy Mondry of Oakland by 2.9 seconds.
-Cruised to a 17.55 second victory at the 27th Annual Running Fit Detroit Invitational. The senior ran the 5K course in a time of 18:38.08 to top a field of 92 runners.
-Named Horizon League Runner of the Week in consecutive weeks. Sept. 1. Sept. 9.
-Third start of the year was a 14th place finish at the 34th Annual National Catholic Championships where she set a personal-best 5K time of 17:58.5.
Coming off some injuries you sustained last season, how fulfilling was it to win the first two races of the season?
Last year I had tendonitis in both my knees so I had to sit out the Oakland [Golden Grizzly Classic] and Tommy Titan [27th Annual Running Fit Detroit Invitational] so I was just excited to be able to help out the team. I feel like I’m basically back to where I should be. I don’t think I prepared myself well enough last year with the amount of mileage we put on with it being my first year at Detroit, so I made some changes this summer to make sure I’d come back healthy.
You didn’t win your third race in a row to start the season, but you did set a personal-best 5K time of 17:58.5 at the 34th Annual National Catholic Championships. Has this been the start of the season you expected?
I actually surprised myself when I hit that time. I asked my coach [Guy Murray] is this too fast? Am I going to peak too early? He said “no, no you are in better shape than last year, you’re on a good path.”
As one of the top returning runners in the League this year, what's your goal for the rest of the season?
My goal is to just, which sounds cheesy, but keep improving and lowering my times. My main goal was to run in the 17:00’s; but now that I’m already there I feel that I need to set it lower. I set really, really high goals for myself so I just want to keep going down as much as possible. I don’t want to say win any more races, but place better than I did in the year’s previous.
Speaking of wins, you are two wins short of Kim Hemstreet’s 2002 record of four wins in one season. Depending on your finish at the Horizon League Cross Country Championships, you have at least four races left. Is this a mark you can catch?
I don’t like to think about comparing myself to other runners, especially Kim Hemstreet who is in a league of her own with how good she was. I just go out and if I do well, and if I win, that’s awesome. But I’m not trying to trail anyone’s records.
Detroit’s next race is Oct. 5 and takes place at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park. The course played host to the 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship and has held numerous NCAA Division I Regional Championships. What kind of challenges do you expect this course to present?
I really enjoy this course. It’s not as difficult as Detroit’s course with the hills. It’s a challenging course though and there are so many good athletes there that it’s just a great race. I’m looking forward to being there and competing and pushing myself further.
With the weather starting to turn cooler, does it affect the way you run?
I hate cold weather! Everyone on my team will attest to that. I actually got an award, a joking award, that if the temperature drops below 70 I ask the coach to stay inside because I hate running in the cold. I don’t let it affect my performance but I prefer to run when it’s warm. The fact that it’s been warm this long in the season has been awesome.
Many cross country student-athletes compete during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. You placed fifth at last year’s Horizon League Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000m race. What’s your favorite sport to run in; cross country, indoor track or outdoor track?
I like cross country but I’m not a fan of the cold. I really enjoy indoor track because everyone is at the same, level playing field. There is no weather, no changing in the terrain and everyone is at the same level. It’s more of a competition on how well you train and prepare for that race.
If you could compete in any other sport at the collegiate level, what would it be?
We were just talking about this as a team and we were saying there should be a day when other sports play other people’s sports just to see what it’s like. I can’t do contact sports, I’m a very weak person and I probably couldn’t take a hit so lacrosse is too dangerous for me. I would say soccer, which I used to play growing up, I think that would be fun.
You’re studying Pre-Law with a major in English Literature, what is your plan after graduation in May?
I was offered the opportunity to stay and get my master’s degree but I haven’t decided what I want to do. I like to take it one day at a time, I’m not a big future looker person, I like to live in the now. I might stay for my masters, I may go to law school right after graduation, or I may take some time off. I’m just not too sure yet. If I go to law school I feel that my major will help me with all the reading and writing I’ve had to do.
As an English Literature major, what’s your favorite book?
I have a lot of favorite books and it’s hard to choose. I have too many, my room is filled with books. I like the classics like A Little Princess. I’m definitely not a fan of science fiction or fantasy books. I love old classics set back a long time ago in the 19th century in foreign countries. But picking just one book is way too difficult!