In Kindergarten, Devin Coppinger was already playing 3-on-3 basketball against kids three years older than her.
As she grew up, Coppinger was recruited by local boys teams to play in tournaments in Seattle. Opposing teams’ parents would vocalize their frustrations as Coppinger dominated her competition.
By fifth grade, she was outside every day practicing and playing with her older brother. In middle school, Coppinger was lifting weights with the high school football team.
Her father, Nooksack native Mike Coppinger, noticed her dedication to the game early on.
“She always had a different level of work ethic and seemed to enjoy the grind and process more than kids her age,” Mike Coppinger said. “I would say she’s probably harder on herself than anybody else.”
Since Devin Coppinger’s freshman year in 2020-21, the Nooksack Valley High School women’s varsity basketball team has lost a total of four regular season games in three seasons.
During 2021-22, Coppinger averaged 21 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3 steals per game. She won the Northwest Conference League MVP and carried the Pioneers to the state championship, where they fell in overtime to Lynden Christian, 56-57.
This season, Coppinger wants to get back to the state championship game and leave with a win.
“Individually, I learned from that game what I need to do better and how I can be a better teammate,” Coppinger said.
Currently, Nooksack Valley’s record sits at 18-1, tying last year’s win total where they finished with a record of 18-2.
Nooksack Valley’s regular season finale is on Feb. 3 while the first round of the state tournament starts late February. Coppinger won’t have to wait long for the opportunity to get back into the championship.
As of Jan. 26, Coppinger’s season averages sit at 22 points per game, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists. She’s shooting 50% from the field, 39% from deep and 89% from the foul line.
Despite her offensive dominance, Coppinger’s favorite aspect of the game is defense. This season, Coppinger is averaging 3.9 steals per game, but her defensive impact goes beyond the box score.
Tree of Hope is Coppinger’s Seattle-based AAU team. They are a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League program that competes in the top tournaments in the nation.
“I take so much pride in that, and I love it. For Tree of Hope, my coach, he’s like, ‘You’re that tough farm girl, we’re putting you on the best girl,’” Coppinger said.
Devin Coppinger’s recent performances have stirred up comparisons to former Washington state high school basketball star and current Louisville Cardinal Hailey Van Lith.
“I don’t read too much into it, but I admire her as a basketball player,” Coppinger said of the comparisons. “That was cool to be compared to her. I’d go to state and watch all of her games. But it gives me more of a drive; I don’t want to just be compared, I want to become better.”
Still only a junior, Coppinger has already received over 20 NCAA Division I offers, many coming from some of the premier schools in the country including Gonzaga, Arizona and Oregon. She ranks 35th in the class of 2024 on Prospects Nation and 41st on ESPN.
Growing up in a small town like Nooksack, Coppinger relishes the close-knit community. She hopes to have a similar relationship with the college she decides to go to.
“These days, girls are transferring all the time. I want to go somewhere that has a family feel, and I’m going to stay there for four years,” Coppinger said.
Nooksack Valley High School head coach Shane Wichers has led the program since the 1996-97 season. He’s had college coaches come watch practices to see Coppinger outside of a game setting.
Coppinger’s in-game results, however, have been the main reason for Nooksack Valley’s recent play.
“We’ve had success but not to the level we’ve had since [Coppinger] has been here,” Wichers said. “She’s a relentless competitor. She wants to do it right every time. She doesn’t like to lose.”
Wichers said that Coppinger will do pushups when she misses a shot during drills.
“As a freshman, her skill set was way beyond a typical high schooler’s,” Wichers said. “The hardest part for her is that her skill level is so high she has to constantly be challenging herself.”
Coppinger also plays for the school volleyball team but said that it is only for fun with her friends. She grew up playing soccer, baseball and track and field but decided to commit to basketball in the fourth grade.
“She’d just jump out there, grab a basketball and start going. She never had any hesitation, just jumping in and giving it her best,” Mike Coppinger said.
Putting in the work has never been an issue for her, and with a disappointing end to last season, Coppinger hopes her work will be rewarded with a state championship trophy in March.
“At some point, everyone feels like ‘Ah, I don’t want to go to practice today,’” Coppinger said. “But you’ve got to think of those bigger goals like, ‘I want to go to college, I want to make an impact on girls basketball, I need to do it today even when I don’t want to.’ That’s what separates people.”
Andrew Foster (he/him) is a sports reporter at The Front. He enjoys listening to music, playing basketball and is working towards a degree in journalism.
You can reach him at email@example.com.