Hitting the books

To be honest, Andrew Copp would rather be studying the various systems and schemes of his opponent in the Western Conference final right now. But since the Winnipeg Jets were bounced early in these Stanley Cup playoffs, Copp has managed to make the most of a longer-than-expected off-season.

A silver lining, if you will. The heady, two-way forward has temporarily swapped his blades for books and gone back to school.

“It’s a whole different world out there,” Copp said this week from Ann Arbor, Mich. “The life we live and inside our locker room is mostly different than other people’s lives. It’s really important to round yourself out as a person and gain knowledge in a lot of different areas.”

Copp, 24, is trying to finish what he started in the fall of 2012 and graduate from the University of Michigan, even if it’s taking him a lot longer than originally planned. He was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft and had three full years of school under his belt when he elected to turn pro and come to Winnipeg in the spring of 2015.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break – our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available

Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 – 6, $10.99/month for months 7 – 9, $13.99/month for months 10 – 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available

Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break – our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper

Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 – 6, $10.99/month for months 7 – 9, $13.99/month for months 10 – 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break – our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available

Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 – 6, $10.99/month for months 7 – 9, $13.99/month for months 10 – 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available

Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break – our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 – 6, $10.99/month for months 7 – 9, $13.99/month for months 10 – 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

To be honest, Andrew Copp would rather be studying the various systems and schemes of his opponent in the Western Conference final right now. But since the Winnipeg Jets were bounced early in these Stanley Cup playoffs, Copp has managed to make the most of a longer-than-expected off-season.

A silver lining, if you will. The heady, two-way forward has temporarily swapped his blades for books and gone back to school.

Andrew Copp is about two dozen credits short of getting his diploma in literature, science and the arts, with a major in either general studies or international studies. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Andrew Copp is about two dozen credits short of getting his diploma in literature, science and the arts, with a major in either general studies or international studies. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“It’s a whole different world out there,” Copp said this week from Ann Arbor, Mich. “The life we live and inside our locker room is mostly different than other people’s lives. It’s really important to round yourself out as a person and gain knowledge in a lot of different areas.”

Copp, 24, is trying to finish what he started in the fall of 2012 and graduate from the University of Michigan, even if it’s taking him a lot longer than originally planned. He was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft and had three full years of school under his belt when he elected to turn pro and come to Winnipeg in the spring of 2015.

“When I left as a junior I was in good shape, planning on finishing in time,” said Copp. “But it kind of got put on the back burner for a little bit. Just kind of had time and thought it would be good timing. It’s always been in the plans, but obviously hockey takes precedence.”

His early exit left him about two dozen credits short of getting his diploma in literature, science and the arts, with a major in either general studies or international studies. Now four full seasons into his NHL career, Copp will grab six of the credits over the next couple months as he completes courses in political science and personal finance.

“I probably won’t quite be done with my first semester of my senior year, but (it’ll be) really close,” he said.

“The life we live and inside our locker room is mostly different than other people’s lives. It’s really important to round yourself out as a person and gain knowledge in a lot of different areas.”

Copp joked that he was Billy Madison, the fictional character played by Adam Sandler in the 1995 movie of the same name. Madison, the 27-year-old heir to a Fortune 500 company, is forced to go back and complete all 12 grades within two weeks after it’s revealed his rich father bribed teachers to give him passing grades.

There are several notable differences, of course. The biggest being Copp actually takes his education seriously, as shown by his return to campus despite making $1 million last season in the NHL. He credits his parents, Anne and Andy, for instilling that in him from an early age.

Copp will earn six credits over the next couple months in political science and personal finance. (Gerry Broome / The Associated Press files)

Copp will earn six credits over the next couple months in political science and personal finance. (Gerry Broome / The Associated Press files)

“My education was very serious growing up. I took a lot of pride in my GPA and my test scores. A lot of the relationships I’ve built, not only since being in the NHL but since I was at Michigan, have led me to try and set myself up well after hockey,” said Copp

“I didn’t know if I wanted to finish my NHL career after 10 or 12 years and be sitting in a class. I wanted to try to finish as I’m going along and have opportunities as soon as my career is over.”

Those opportunities, according to Copp, could be on the business and real estate side, or even within the hockey coaching ranks.

“A lot of football players and basketball players who have left early have taken this (financial) class. It’s just about managing your money, your 401(k). Hopefully I can dive a little deeper into that. It should be a real interesting class and something that’s really relevant to me,” he said.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to finish my NHL career after 10 or 12 years and be sitting in a class. I wanted to try to finish as I’m going along and have opportunities as soon as my career is over.”

Copp has a lot on his plate this summer, including the fact he’s a pending restricted free agent likely due for a raise after scoring a career-high 11 goals last season, along with 14 assists, in 69 regular-season games. He also had five assists in six playoff games against the St. Louis Blues while showing his versatility in not only being an effective part of the TLC checking line with Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev, but also moving off the wing to centre his own line at times this season.

I wondered if he could get extra credit for negotiating his next deal?

“Maybe extra credit for going to arbitration, too,” he joked.

Copp has worked out an arrangement to complete most assignments online and at home, allowing him to combine his usual off-season hockey training with his homework. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Copp has worked out an arrangement to complete most assignments online and at home, allowing him to combine his usual off-season hockey training with his homework. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Copp isn’t spending a ton of time on campus, as he’s worked out an arrangement with his professors allowing him to complete most assignments online and at home. He does meet in person with them on a regular basis along with having regular phone conversations. He also talks to another athlete who left college early to play professional baseball, only to now return to school after injuries derailed his career.

This allows Copp to combine his usual off-season hockey training with his homework. He’s also been able to catch his younger brother, Tyler, play in a few golf tournaments out of Mercer College in Georgia.

“I think right now we’re trying to work towards building relationships with a professor that I can do independent study throughout the year,” said Copp.

“Everything I’ve learned over the last four, five years, whether it’s personal finance, hockey-specific training or nutrition… I’ve learned so much over the past bit that I’ve been with the Jets. Applying that to some sort of curriculum and expanding on that knowledge is something I feel I could get credit for.”

After his NHL career, Copp end up in business, real estate side or even within the hockey coaching ranks. (Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press files)

After his NHL career, Copp end up in business, real estate side or even within the hockey coaching ranks. (Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press files)

Copp has seen, and heard, of many examples where athletes have little waiting for them beyond the game, struggling to adjust once their careers are over. That’s something he’s always wanted to avoid.

“I don’t know how much flak I received from leaving Michigan early. But I still ended up valuing my education and everything Michigan did for me and now go back and try to make the most of my time I spent there,” said Copp. “I knew I was going to finish either way. Either finish that next year or five, 10 years down the road. That didn’t impact my decision (to turn pro) one bit. It was nice because I knew I’d obviously finish at some point.”

And now the finish line is a bit closer. Copp admits the day he steps on stage to accept his diploma will be one of the proudest for him and his family — although he’s willing to drag it out even longer, if necessary,

“It’ll be up there, for sure. Especially going the long route. I know my parents will be very happy that day. I’ve thought about it a little bit, but kind of on the back burner, depending on how far we can go each season. If I’m playing into May and June, hopefully I’m not in class for the next several years.”

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

Read full biography