Inside Scoop: Shannon Koplitz

April 8, 2009

Shannon Koplitz, a junior from New Orleans, La., is having the best season of her career in 2009, hitting in Stanford's three hole with a .362 batting average, .638 slugging percentage and six homers. An All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention selection as a freshman in 2007, Shannon has been a fixture in the Cardinal lineup for three years, playing shortstop, second base, outfield and most recently, third base. This year, she ranks among the nation's 25 RBI leaders (22nd, 1.06 per game), pacing the team with 38 on the season. She also leads the Pac-10 and ranks among the top 20 nationally with four triples. In Pac-10 play, Shannon has continued to be one of the most consistent hitters in the lineup (.318) and hit the game-winning home run two weeks ago in an upset of then-No. 2 Washington.

You said one of your hobbies is camping, backpacking, etc. Where is your favorite place to go or favorite trip that you have done?

The best camping trip I have ever taken is when I went to the Ansel Adams Wilderness this past summer before school started. It was the first time I had ever been backpacking before, so I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and the friends I went with are all pretty experienced in the wilderness. At first I was kind of nervous about making a fool out of myself, either by toppling over with my pack on, setting the campsite on fire, or doing something else completely stupid. When we actually got out into the woods, though, I forgot all about any anxiety that I had previously. Everything was breathtaking; we camped by crystal clear lakes every night, watched incredible sunrises on the mountains, and I saw more stars than I have ever seen in my life. One of my friends even showed us a new constellation that he had found himself, of a giant teapot pouring out the Milky Way. The trip was also not without its tribulations. Our first night out, we all walked a little ways from our campsite to star-gaze. On our way back, just as we were approaching the camp, we saw some movement down at the far end by our packs; our stuff was being raided by bears! At first we only saw one and managed to shoo it away without incident. Later on in the night, however, we awoke to find that the bear had come back, and this time he had brought a friend. The two bears proceeded to break branches and shuffle around our camp for the rest of the night. We weren't in tents, only in sleeping bags on the ground, so we just lay awake all night staring at the places where the noises were coming from. At one point our fire started again (we must not have put it out thoroughly the first time), so another one of my friends and I sprinted over to it and kicked dirt on it as fast as we could, nervously yelling and clapping and looking around, waiting anxiously for the bears to jump out at us at any minute. A little while later, my guy friend who was sleeping at the end of our sleeping bag train dozed off during a break in the bear noises, only to wake up to find himself face to face with one of the bears, which was about five feet away on the other side of a log. After that we REALLY didn't sleep. In the morning, after we hadn't heard the bears for a while, we went out to check the damage. Fortunately, none of our expensive packs had been damaged, and everything was pretty much accounted for until we checked our food. Not only had the bears kicked one of our bear canisters (plastic bear-proof barrels for storing food) into the middle of the lake, but they had also pulled down our bear bag from a really tall tree and dragged it all the way to the other side of the camp. Our breakfast bagel supply, which was in the bear canister, was now completely soaked in lake water, and two of my friends' toothbrushes were covered in bear slobber. We still had plenty of food for the rest of the trip and never encountered another bear, but every night after that we made sure to securely barricade the food far away from the nearest water source, just to be safe.

What is your major? How did you choose it? Describe what your parents do. Has that inspired you at all to go into a scientific field?

I am a Human Biology major concentrating in Environmental Science and Policy. What really appealed to me about the HumBio major was the idea of studying the biology of human function within the social and psychological context of human culture. I also really liked that after taking a few core classes, you can basically take whatever you want if it relates to your concentration. Scheduling classes at Stanford can be a bit tricky, so having more flexibility when fulfilling requirements for the major is really nice. I'm also minoring in Geological and Environmental Science, which has been really fun. I'm very interested in the Earth Sciences as well, and by blending the GES minor with my area of concentration in HumBio, I have been able to take a wide range of classes catered to my specific interests, involving everything from geochemical and atmospheric processes to international relations and policy development. My parents are both well-established chemistry professors, and even though I don't think I will be taking exactly that path within the sciences, they both know a lot about other areas of science and have been very important sources of advice and information for me throughout my academic career (they have even helped me out with my chemistry homework from time to time).

Describe something that you're NOT good at.

I'm not very good at waking up in the morning (Rosey can attest to this). When I wake up, it probably takes me at least 30 minutes before I'm anywhere near functional. A couple times during fall quarter, I tried to climb down out of the top bunk to go to morning weights and completely missed the last step on the ladder. Also, it is rare within that first 30 minutes to see me answer questions with anything besides nods, grunts, or hand gestures. I'm also really inflexible; I can barely sit cross-legged on the ground, and I have a hard time doing anything remotely resembling gymnastics (my cartwheels are ghastly).

Do you have any hidden talents?

I'm pretty good at guessing the movies that Missy quotes; we both watched a lot of movies growing up, and I can usually guess which movie she is thinking of based on a song or line from the movie. It's actually kind of turned into a game that we play now, and even though no one else on the team usually has any idea what we're talking about, we think it's really fun. I can also ride my bike with no hands, including going around turns.

What did you write your Stanford admissions essay about? Is there one particular story or event that has affected who you are today?

I actually don't remember what I wrote my essay about, but if I had to write another one right now it would probably be about Hurricane Katrina and how the changes it brought to my city have impacted my life. I'm from New Orleans, and when Katrina hit my family, I moved to stay with family in Washington State for a couple of months. My family was extremely fortunate and didn't lose anything besides a window and a few roof tiles, but most of my friends and much of the New Orleans community lost everything to the storm. Watching the pure determination of those people as they rebuilt their lives from absolutely nothing changed me as a person. I saw real strength, faith, courage, sacrifice, and generosity. It redefined for me what it means for something to be difficult, and it has helped me to appreciate everyday how incredible my life is.

Anything you're 'addicted to' or spend a lot of time doing?

My roommate CJ and I are addicted to watching the TV show Ghost Hunters on the SciFi channel. I have actually been watching it for a couple of years now with my mom at home, but I got Carly hooked on it as well and now we watch it almost every Wednesday night. I get scared really easily, so it's good that I have someone else at school who is willing to watch it with me. Whenever I do get scared, it makes me feel better if I can cover my eyes and ears and just peak out, so CJ and I have started watching Ghost Hunters already wrapped up in blankets just in case it gets too scary and we need somewhere to hide.

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