Copher hopes to fulfill his dreams
Madera Tribune File Photo
Liberty Hawks’ three-sport athlete Quaid Copher ropes a base hit during a 2019 game for the Hawks. He earned a congressional nomination to a service academy from Congressman Jim Costa. Copher is a three-time Valley Champion for the Hawks and will graduate with at least 10 varsity letters.
After his eighth grade year, Liberty High School’s Quaid Copher went to a summer STEM program at the Naval Academy and fell in love with the school. Since then, he has been working to achieve a dream of attending the Naval Academy.
Copher was one of six Central Valley seniors to receive a Congressional nomination from Jim Costa, one of the big stepping stones in earning admittance to the Naval Academy.
“It’s amazing to say Congressman Costa nominated me to a service academy,” Copher said.
Copher’s top two choices are the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy, but he hasn’t received word if he has received admittance.
“I don’t want to make a decision before I know if I’ve gotten in,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have to choose between the two when the time comes.”
“That’s just awesome when someone gets that,” said Golden Valley Unified School District Superintendent Rod Wallace. “You have to be nominated and it’s not easy. It’s an honor for the entire district that someone is selected for that.”
Copher also received the Smittcamp Scholarship at Fresno State, which is a full-ride academic scholarship. He says that will be his Plan B. His sister, Claire, also received the Smittcamp Scholarship.
Copher’s interest in the Naval Academy began with the STEM program at the Naval Academy.
“My freshman year, my mom heard about a summer STEM program at the Naval Academy and sent me there,” he said. “I spent a week on campus going through a week in the life of a midshipman. Ever since then, I’ve been working hard through high school to go there. I participated in a lot of stuff to be able to go there. Since my freshman year of high school, that’s been my goal.”
At any of the academies, Copher plans to major in aerospace engineering to eventually become a pilot. If he heads to Fresno State, he plans to major in plant science and minor in chemistry.
However, with the pandemic and doing a lot of home learning, it was tough for Copher to take care of some of the requirements for a service academy admission.
“It was much harder with the pandemic,” he said. “It was a very intricate process that took hours and hours to do. It wasn’t just stuff that I needed to do. It was getting transcripts, letters of recommendations and teacher evaluation forms. There was a lot of things done in person. It had to be done with pen and paper at the end of the day. That added a lot more steps in the process that teachers and I had to go through. It added more time.”
In addition to getting a Congressional nomination, transcripts and letters of recommendation, Copher had to write three essays and was subject to an interview.
“The big thing with the nomination was you had an interview.,” he said. “A month-and-a-half ago, I sat in a room with 18 evaluators and me. It was 18 people asking me questions for 30 minutes. That was the tell for them. The purpose of that is if you are who you seem to be on paper. They can see your character and see who you are as a person. That was the biggest thing in the process.
“The whole time through, I was second guessing myself. There’s always a little voice in your head saying different things than what came out of my mouth. The big thing for me was finding that perfect balance between professionalism and my character. I’ve always been a light-hearted guy and tried to make that clear. It all worked out.”
Another part of the process was the physical evaluation. For Copher, being a three-sport athlete (cross country, basketball and baseball), it wasn’t really a problem and basically turned into a normal workout.
“My evaluator was my point of contact from the Air Force Academy who was assigned to help me with the application process,” he said. “She came out one day and we did a combination of stuff. One was a basketball throw. Another was running a mile and doing push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups and a 40-yard shuttle run. I did end up scoring pretty well. The last thing on that was the medical portion. You have to go through an agency that is in charge of medically clearing all of the applicants before they can be admitted.”
Another portion of the application process was the community aspect and Copher has accumulated more than 300 volunteer hours at Valley Children’s Hospital over the past five years.
“I was always a very busy guy in high school,” he said. “I love volunteering at Valley Children’s Hospital. Another thing that happened to look good was the water bottle filling stations. I got a lot of questions about that through my process. That seemed to come up often.”
One of the advantages Copher had over the past year was being an athlete. It gave him a reason to get out of the house and a way to interact with his teammates.
“With COVID, being an athlete, it gave me a reason to get out of the house,” he said. “I know a lot of people who were stuck in their hosue dreading every day. That would be awful. Being an athlete, it gives me a reason to get out and push myself physically. I believe if you push yourself physically, it’s a mental game. Being in athletics, it gives you a way to spend time with other people while able to social distance. I’ve been able to run cross country this whole time.”
Copher also hopes to continue his baseball career at an academy, whether it is intramurals, junior varsity or on a walk-on with the top team.
“Even during the academy, you’re going to participate in a physical sport,” he said. “If I go, I’m going to play baseball someway, whether it’s on intramural or their junior varsity team or even the varsity team. My coach has been talking to their coach. It was videos being sent. Their reply wanted me to hit a certain miles pitching. It’s at the point, it’s once I get in, we’ll figure it out.”
Copher points to his sister, Claire, for setting a bar really high and trying to do more than what she did.
“Claire definitely set the bar very high,” he said. “I’ll never say that to her face. I knew going into high school some stuff looked good on an application. Community service is one and shows you care. I started volunteering at VCH as a chore. I felt like I needed to do it to be successful and go to a good college. After a while, I started to enjoy it so I look forward to going there.”
Copher will be wrapping up one of the finest athletic careers at Liberty, where he was an eight-time letterwinner up to his senior year, and could end up being an 11-time letter winner when he graduates. He is also a three-time Valley Champion (two with baseball and one with basketball) and has hopes any of his teams this year can make him a four-time champion.
“It’s crazy to think about the amount of hours and practice I put in,” he said.