By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Rising to a top player on perennial small college golf contender Cal State San Marcos has been a challenge on and off the course for Lisa Copeland.
The Empire great out of Middletown helped San Marcos return to the NAIA National Championships this season. The Cougars finished ranked 12th in the nation.
“It was awesome,” Copeland said. “The pressure is on the whole rest of the year to get there. Nationals was just a lot of fun.”
Among the Cougars best as a freshman, Copeland improved to tie for team low-scoring average her second season.
Always a mentally tough competitor, Copeland is emotionally stronger two years after her mother, Judy Copeland, died in a car accident. Her mother’s death came two weeks after Copeland’s high school graduation as she prepared to go to college in Southern California.
“I’ve done pretty good considering,” Copeland said. “Now I’m learning how to live with it. Mentally I had a lot more energy this season.”
Staying mentally strong is critical to success in college golf. Teams play tournaments throughout the school year. Fall helps players and teams gauge their games. Spring is for conference, regional, and national play.
Highlights on the year for Copeland included:
Placing fourth individually in an Arizona invitational featuring more than a dozen NCAA and NAIA teams.
Winning an Arizona invitational.
Leading the Cougars to a second place finish at the Association of Independent Institutions Conference finals, earning the team an at-large berth in the NAIA National Championships.
Earning All-Conference honors.
One of the NAIA low scorers nationally for stretches, Copeland has gained more distance on drives and is making better decisions in course management.
“I obviously have potential and I finished the year with some hope,” Copeland said.
Staying sharp over summer will mostly involve lessons and plenty of practice.
at Copeland’s home courses, Hidden Valley Lake, in Middletown, and Lake Merced Golf Club, in San Francisco. Copeland will play a couple of tournaments.
Looking to her junior season excites Copeland. Among three top scorers back and with a strong incoming class, San Marcos again should be in the national title picture.
“That’s why I want to keep getting better,” Copeland said. “I have people depending on me.”