For as long as she can remember, Keelie Koepp has had a front row seat for Calaveras High School athletics. As the eldest daughter of two Calaveras coaches, much of Koepp’s life has been spent either watching or participating in Calaveras sports.
In four years at Calaveras, Koepp played volleyball and softball. And in that stretch, she played in three section championship softball games, played in one CIF State volleyball playoff game and earned all-league honors in both sports.
Koepp was planning on leading Calaveras softball to a fourth straight section championship appearance, but the season came to an end after nine games due to COVID-19. The power hitting infielder finished her Calaveras career getting the last out of the season while making a rare pitching appearance.
Now, no longer an active Calaveras athlete, Koepp can reflect on what the school athletic department has meant to her over her young life.
“Calaveras athletics is not only a big part of our school, but also our community,” Koepp said. “Athletes here feel that it’s a family and our community builds around that. I’m going to miss the whole community feel. I feel that you are supported by everyone, regardless of if they say it or not.”
Swinging for the fences
With a bat in her hands, Koepp didn’t sit and watch a lot of pitches go by. In her three-plus years as a varsity softball player, Koepp became one of the most skilled hitters in the Mother Lode League. She leaves Calaveras with an average of .496 with 141 hits, 147 RBIs, 115 runs scored, 37 doubles, 11 triples and four home runs.
In three years, Koepp was a first- and second-team player, and as a sophomore, was named as the co-Most Outstanding Player of the Mother Lode League. She helped lead Calaveras to a league title all three years and to also the section championship game. Even though Calaveras was unable to be crowned as section champs, Koepp doesn’t let that diminish how big of a deal it was just to get to that spot.
“I think we accomplished a lot,” Koepp said. “When it comes to playing sports, especially in a small community like this, it’s not necessarily about winning everything. I had a fun three-and-a-quarter years, and I feel that I accomplished everything that I needed to accomplish as a Calaveras softball player.”
Yet with all her accomplishments on the softball diamond, one of her biggest regrets is not being able to have a full year being teammates with her freshman sister, Laney.
“I was looking forward to playing with my sister,” Koepp said. “This was a time to not just be her sister, but also her teammate and friend on the field.”
The court was calling
Softball had nearly become a job for Koepp. She played year-round and knew that her future would be on the diamond. And maybe that’s why she enjoyed her time on the volleyball court as much as she did.
When she was able to trade the bat and glove for knee pads, Koepp relished the opportunity to play a different sport and took full advantage of the change of scenery.
“At times, playing softball was a dread for me,” Koepp said. “Playing volleyball was a passion. I would have so much fun to just go and do something different and something that I didn’t do all the time. When I did play, I just had fun and put all of myself into it.”
In two years as a varsity starter, Koepp was twice named as a first-team player. From her libero position, Koepp helped bring Calaveras to within one game of the section championship game during her senior campaign. She finished her volleyball career with 883 digs, 825 serve receptions, 107 aces and four kills in 161 sets played.
In two years of varsity volleyball, Koepp played for two different coaches. And those coaches each happened to be her parents. During her junior year, she was coached by her mother, Mikki, and then the following year was coached by her father and Calaveras athletic director, Mike, who also coached her each year in softball.
“I think it made me a stronger athlete,” Koepp said about being coached by each one of her parents. “I had to separate mom and dad from coach. It made me have to step out of my comfort zone and be a leader, but also still have to listen to my parents.”
Away from athletics
When not on a field or court, Koepp had many different ways to stay active. Along with having a 4.13 grade point average, she was a four-year member of the Associated Student Body (ASB) and was a secretary and treasurer. She was a member of the Help the Homeless club and was part of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF).
“I’ve always been a leader in general, so leadership in ASB is where I strived the most,” Koepp said. “I enjoy being a leader and having a voice, instead of sitting back and letting people take the reins. It was nice to help put things on that I could see the community and my classmates enjoy as much as I did.”
And with all Koepp earned, both on and off the field, she was the recipient of the Dale Lacky Scholarship, which is given for outstanding athletic performance, community service and academic success during their four years of high school. Koepp was awarded a $500 scholarship. Of the 48 scholarship recipients, only Koepp and Amador’s Augustus Gedney came from the Mother Lode League.
In the wintertime, Koepp could be found at basketball games running either the game clock or the shot clock.
“I really enjoyed being a part of (the basketball games),” she said. “It was something that I could do for fun, but I also enjoyed being there not only for my friends who played basketball, but to see them strive in the sport that they loved.”
With her Calaveras life now just a memory, Koepp will look ahead to her future, which will be playing softball at Azusa Pacific University.