Kopecky carries on the family sports tradition

Whether he plays his final sports season or not, Jalen Kopecky is one of the greatest Mt. Hope athletes ever

By Manuel C. "Manny" Correira
Posted 3/21/20

Coming from a family of high-profile athletes, it was a no-brainer that Mt. Hope High School senior Jalen Kopecky would follow suit. This 6-foot-3, 280-pound three-sport standout has lived up to the …

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Kopecky carries on the family sports tradition

Whether he plays his final sports season or not, Jalen Kopecky is one of the greatest Mt. Hope athletes ever

Posted

Coming from a family of high-profile athletes, it was a no-brainer that Mt. Hope High School senior Jalen Kopecky would follow suit. This 6-foot-3, 280-pound three-sport standout has lived up to the hype, and then some.

When Jalen graduates this coming June, he will leave behind a sports legacy that will be difficult to match.

“I’ve truly enjoyed my time at Mt. Hope High,” said the soft-spoken honor student. “I will certainly miss all my friends and coaches. I really have enjoyed my four years here.”

Most recently, Jalen, son of former Warren High School and Mt. Hope High star athlete Jodi Kopecky, finished his high school basketball career as a 1,000-point scorer, averaging better than 22 points per game this season. He also completed a fantastic football career, which saw him earn first team All-State honors as a tight end last year, and second team All-State in basketball. Under normal circumstances, were it not for the coronavirus pandemic, it would be on to baseball, where he’s an All-Division outfielder who was among the team leaders in batting as a clean-up hitter last season. At this point, there's no certainty there will even be a spring baseball season.

After visiting several schools, Jalen decided to continue his education next year at Bridgewater State University, where he plans to play football and basketball.

Mt. Hope High School athletic director Christy Belisle knows full well how much the school will miss this extraordinary young man.

“Any time you have a three-sport athlete for four years, they are deeply missed when they leave,” she noted. “Jalen’s class has many, including his cousin Ellee. It has been fun to watch them grow together and push each other along the way. Jalen’s a big three guy; his impact touches the most watched of the 27 sports on the boys’ side. Jalen’s powerful hits on the football field, flair off the boards, and tracking in the outfield will leave a lasting impression for years to come.”

Ms. Belisle also recognizes other aspects of Jalen’s game.

“He has a membership to the 1,000 point club, 2 division championships, a state championship, and another season to finish,” she said. ”We expect great things from him in his final season of baseball. He will be celebrated in June as one of the great lettermen of 2020.”

Basketball coach Jeff Grifka says Jalen is a unique talent.

“I have had the opportunity to get to know Jalen both at Kickemuit Middle School and Mt. Hope High School,” he said. “He played for me in the eighth grade at KMS and the last two years at Mt. Hope. Being able to work with someone with Jalen's potential was great. He is such a force on the court. His ability to get rebounds is one of his best assets.”

Coach Grifka continued, “Jalen is a versatile player who makes it challenging for teams to game plan for. He can take it to the basket well. He can post up in a pinch and even hit the three when needed. These variables are very hard to prepare for as a coach. He has worked on all of these aspects of his game and has gotten much better over the years. I have really enjoyed working with him.  He has been a part of bringing the basketball program to where it is today. He has played a great part in being in the playoffs three years in a row, along with a state championship last year. His leadership and experience will be missed next year.”

Mt. Hope High head football coach T. J. Del Santo says the sky’s the limit for Jalen.

“I think he can do very well at the next level,” he said. “The coaches at Bridgewater State can take advantage of Jalen’s special skills. He has the potential to play two sports. He’s that good.”

Obviously Coach Del Santo will miss having Jalen as part of his program next season.

“It was fun working with him,” he said. “Jalen gave us the ability to do a lot of things. He could play a variety of positions, and play them well. It forced other teams to game-plan for him.”

As indicated previously, Jalen’s athletic heritage stems directly from his mother and two uncles, Scott and T.J. Kopecky.

Jodi Kopecky played at the former Warren High School for three years and one year at Mt. Hope High, excelling in soccer, basketball, and softball. She was all-league in all three sports and was a member of a championship team in 1993. She enjoyed continued success at Salve Regina University in basketball and softball, earning All-Conference honors in basketball three times and playing on Salve’s NCAA Divison III championship softball team.

Scott Kopecky, another former Warren High School great (Class of 1990), made his mark in football, basketball and baseball and was an All-Division selection in all three sports. He was a 1,000-point career scorer in basketball at Warren High, and later became one of Salve Regina’s greatest all-around athletes as a top 10 all-time leading scorer in basketball, an All New England player in baseball, and as a member of the newly launched football program at the school his first year.

Just 22 months younger than Scott, brother T.J. starred in football, basketball and baseball at Warren High, graduating in 1991. Although not as acclaimed as big brother Scott, he nonetheless smiles widely when mentioning the fact that he set Warren High’s all-time single-season passing yardage record.

“I broke Scott La Roche’s record, and that’s something I’m very proud of,” he recalled. “That record lasted all those years.”

The Kopecky brothers also have their own children who have gone on to remarkable achievements at their respective schools. T.J.’s two daughters, Kelsey and Kaitlyn, and Scott’s kids, Gordon, Ellee and Annee, have been sports standouts throughout their careers.

“And my mom and dad have always been very supportive of Jalen,” said Jodi. “They never miss any of his games.”

Speaking of mom, Robyn Kopecky herself made history as a champion roller skater at the Old Warren Roller Rink.

When Jodi looks at her son, she bursts with pride.

“It’s like watching my career all over again,” she said.  And her brother, Scott, the self-proclaimed “family critic,” has these words of advice for Jalen:

“He’s a great athlete,” said Scott. “He has the genes. He has to work harder. You got to get out there and work.”

“That’s the family dynamic,” Jodi concluded, “to work hard.”

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