Please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Natalie Kopicová and I'm 19 years old. I'm from the Czech Republic where I play softball for Eagles Prague and the Czech National team as an Outfielder. I have been playing since 2007. I'm currently studying and playing softball at Chipola College located in Marianna, Florida.
What made you want to start playing softball?
At the beginning I played baseball for my home team. However, as a girl you are not allowed to play baseball with boys when you turn 14 years old, so I had to start playing softball. Playing softball for a team in our capital city showed as the best option.
How did you get recruited for your college team?
I personally feel this is the hardest part for European players; being seen by college coaches. In the USA, college coaches don’t follow leagues in Europe and most of them want to see the players in action or attend their camps, so I had to help myself another way. I contacted a Czech company that helps athletes get into colleges in the USA. I had to make a recruiting video which was sent to coaches around the USA. Also, I was in the USA with our national team so we let coaches know and they could come to watch me play. Coaches who were interested contacted the company or me. Then, I made a few phone calls with colleges I was considering and at the end I chose one school from all my offers.
What do you think are the biggest differences between softball in the Czech Republic and the USA?
Softball in the USA is much different compared to my country. The attitude of the USA players compared to players in my country is more warlike and the game is faster. Also, the system is more relaxed in the Czech Republic. It’s not common in Czech or Europe to have sports teams in high schools or universities as the USA has. So, for many Czech players, softball is not prioritised and they don’t dedicate all of their time to it.
What does a typical week in your college-life look like?
Chipola has school from Monday until Thursday and classes are approximately from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (It depends on your personal schedule). Practices are every day after school at 2:30 p.m. and last about 4-6 hours. We have to be at the field at least one hour before to get ready, set up everything and do our warm-up. Also we have 6 a.m. workouts two or three times a week. If there are no game days; Friday and Saturday are practices during the day and Sunday is our day off.
What do you enjoy the most about college?
What I enjoy the most about college is the experience and the fun that I have. It’s a hard challenge for me being far from home, but I love to play at this high level and new friends are part of the experience. This is my first year and to be honest, I was a little scared because Chipola challenges you to be the best and teaches you everything they know. The fun moments with new friends and crazy activities we always do is an experience I would never want to change.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
What is your softball goal for 2020?
My goals for 2020 are to win a medal at the European Championship with the Czech national team and qualify for 2021 World Cup. Also, Chipola softball is the 2019 National champions (NJCAA D1) so our biggest goal is defending the title of National Champions.
Do you have advice for anyone that is trying to get into college?
Contact college coaches in time. Let them know if you are in the USA with your team and tell them to come to watch you play. If you have the option to go to their camps, it will help you to get noticed as well. Lastly, get mentally ready. It is not going to be easy because it requires a lot of hard work.
- Romy Marinus -