Hayden CopelandWOOD RIVER- Senior Hayden Copeland is one of East Alton-Wood River's top baseball players this season and is a Midwest Members Credit Union Male Athlete of the Month for the Oilers.

Hayden recognized his parents as his biggest supporters for as long as he has played.

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"They've always been there to take me to games make sure I'm taking care of myself and provide me with everything I need for the sport, I don't know if I would have made it this far in the game without them."

Hayden's coaches this season are Dylan Burris, Jason Gerner, and Kraig Daniels.

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The Oilers' senior has always been a silent, lead-by-example athlete. This preseason Hayden embraced being a senior and has led vocally and by example. Hayden will ask questions, and that helps other athletes build the courage to ask questions themselves.

"I have played baseball ever since I could pick up a bat, the first time I ever played I was hooked instantly," he said. "I love being outdoors and I've also
taken up golf recently. During the summer I'm out as much as I can either fishing, camping, playing golf, or just doing anything outdoors."

He says baseball has helped him develop into the person he is now, and "It taught me the discipline that I apply to everything in life not just baseball. Baseball is also a game of failure, being good can mean failing times out of 10. Baseball has taught me to keep a clear mind and move on from mistakes, using it as a learning experience so I can be ready for the next thing."

Hayden said Jason Gerner and two teammates Dillon Gerner and Drake Champlain have had a big influence on him.

"Jason has been coaching me pretty much my whole life, and he's taught me pretty much everything I know about the game. He has been a big influence on the player I am today and all I can do is thank him. I've also played with Drake and Dillon since I started, we grew up on the same little league teams and once we got to the high school level the bond was even stronger. I am glad I got to grow up and develop with these guys, they've made the game so much more fun and they've also helped me develop into the player I am now."

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