PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In July, the Olive Branch Little League Senior Girls Softball team brought home the Senior League Virginia State Championship to their friends and family.
The run they were on was a success thanks to their former league president Andre Copeland. The team says that every time they played, he was with them in spirit.
“Everywhere we went, there was an orange butterfly. We just knew it was him.,” said Olive Branch pitcher Lexy Moore.
Andre Copeland was known as many as a father, coach, and leader. His four children grew up in a sports-rich household and were taught a variety of sports at a young age. In March, just two weeks before the Olive Branch team’s season started, he died at the age of 46.
“His name holds a lot of weight around the city, from Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Norfolk. Everybody knows who Andre is when it comes to Olive Branch Little League,” said Andre Copeland’s youngest son, Jason Copeland.
Andre Copeland first volunteered with the Olive Branch Little League in 2008. He was so into the organization, he eventually moved up the ranks, and took on two new roles as equipment manager and vice president of the Olive Branch Little League.
In October 2019, he took over as president of the program. As soon as he became in charge, he turned it into a success. Over his two-year tenure as president, he recruited over 270 kids to join the league. Andre Copeland saw potential in all youth, and wanted them to stay active by getting involved in sports.
“He was dedicated to the league, wanted to make sure everybody had what they needed. A lot of people were honored for what he did, and how he treated the kids, and the members of the league. He definitely was all-for Olive Branch, he put them first. You gotta love and respect that,” his oldest son, Andre Stephenson, said.
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit Virginia in March 2020, Andre Copeland was still going above and beyond with his job, making sure he was at the field getting everything prepared for the players. He even helped coach the softball team.
Once Jasmine Copeland, his oldest daughter, grew up out of the league, Andre Copeland became sick. His kidneys were failing. He was on dialysis three times a week, and needed a kidney transplant. Luckily, a close friend of his had a match.
His family says working with the kids regardless of his still-declining health kept him happy and full of life. Andre Copeland was well-known in the Portsmouth community, and his memory will forever live on in the league for future generations of boys and girls.
The team will be recognized for their accomplishments by the Portsmouth City Council at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.