Drive, focus to improve pushes Hopkins’ Coffey to the top

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 12, 2013 - 7:55 AM

Her diverse basketball skills and burning desire to get better allowed the Hopkins senior to add layers to her game and attract national attention.

The expression on Nia Coffey’s face didn’t budge as coach Brian Cosgriff scolded her.

The Hopkins senior forward just nodded and began to write. Her eyes quickly returned to the TV on the wall, her hand still gripping the pen in anticipation of something worthy of more ink.

Distractions around her went unnoticed as she kept her focus on studying film of Section 6 championship opponent Minnetonka. The sunflower seeds on the table didn’t entice her, nor did a teammate’s occasional comment divert her. She was only interested in improving.

“Why did you stop?” Cosgriff said to Coffey, referring to the footage. “Post up. They can’t stop you if you post up.”

Six-foot-1, athletic and crafty, Coffey is used to hearing that from people, and used to proving they are right.

Her ability to jump, handle the ball and score near the basket and on the perimeter has made it nearly impossible for even Minnesota’s best to limit her. Her play made her the Star Tribune’s 2013 Metro Player of the Year.

The rest of the nation has taken notice, too. Coffey became only the fourth girls’ basketball player from Minnesota to be named a McDonald’s All-American. She’s also a Women’s Basketball Coaches All-American.

Cosgriff called Coffey the best Royal he’s coached. She moved into second place on Hopkins’ career scoring list this season with 1,422 points. She has 242 career steals, 206 blocks and 172 assists.

She is a humble star. She struggles to remember how many years she played varsity, settling on two. Her parents — father Richard Coffey played for the Gophers in the late 1980s — corrected her to four. If asked, though, she’ll tell you that she considers herself the best player in the state.

“At least I like to think about it like that,’’ she said. “I play hard and try to help my teammates get better. If you’re playing the game of basketball right, you have to have that mindset to do this.”

Coffey will join Braham star Rebekah Dahlman in the McDonald’s All-American game. While that might suggest rivals for the title of the state’s best, Coffey doesn’t concern herself with it. She’s just happy to be honored along with a talent such as Dahlman. Any time Coffey can talk about someone other than herself, she prefers it.

The selfless attitude was evident when Coffey learned she would play in the April 6 All-American game in Chicago. Cosgriff couldn’t keep a secret and delivered the news prematurely after one of Hopkins’ 28 victories. He was bubbling and so were Coffey’s teammates, while she just bobbed her head calmly and accepted the praise before attempting to return it.

“I didn’t think I heard him right,” Coffey said. “I was in shock a little bit.”

Especially from the few Coffey posters that were then hung in the halls of Hopkins High School.

“I think from the start, I never thought I’d be in this position today,” she said. “It’s cool to see how far I’ve come, but I’ve got a long way to go.”

That includes one final state tournament this week and then to Northwestern on a full scholarship.

Lifelong friend and teammate Mikaala Shackelford said Coffey always has been a special athlete. She was reminded of it late in the season when Coffey tried to dunk against Edina.

“I was just standing at half court in awe,” Shackelford said. “I think she was embarrassed she missed. But still hitting the rim is unbelievable.”

Said Cosgriff: “She’s taken her game to a level that not many people in these parts do.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Dallas 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Chicago 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65


question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters