SportStars Magazine

Andrew Koponen: Wrestler. Soldier. Survivor.

Andrew Koponen: Wrestler. Officer. Survivor.

Always Moving Forward

The mantra of the wrestler and soldier, turned Oakland police officer. And now screenwriter, Andrew Koponen has a life-and-times story that is the stuff of lore. And a survivors tale that brought him through dark times, all the way to Hollywood.

By Al Fontes, Special to SportStars

Andrew Koponen “aka, Kope” was born in the small suburban town of Livermore, CA, where farms spread throughout the tri-valley and hillside areas.

Residents gather for the annual rodeos and parades, tourists and locals alike enjoy over 50 wineries and breweries.

His father, a nuclear physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and his homemaker mother, raised four kids in this small town.

During Kope’s childhood, his parents taught him that in life he should do the best he can at whatever he set his mind to, regardless of whether it was in school, sports, work and life in general.

In short, never give up!

The Andrew Koponen story: Wrestler. Officer. Survivor.

Kope on tour in Kuwait

Having not competed in any organized sports during his early childhood, Kope spent a majority of his free time being adventurous and exploring new places, having fun with friends. It was not until his freshman year at Livermore High School that he ever considered participating in sports.

At the request of his good friend, Will Ormond, Kope joined him on the wrestling team, which at the time was among the top programs in the North Coast region of California.

Always moving forward…never giving up,”

If his first try at wrestling was any indication of what to expect in his future, it would have been easier to give up and try something else.

During his freshman season, Kope took his lumps on the mat, winning about five out of twenty or so JV matches.

His sophomore year wasn’t much better, especially when he was given the opportunity to move up the ladder a few times and compete at the varsity level.

Only winning a few matches that season, Kope understood that something had to change, so between his sophomore and junior years, he joined a couple of his teammates and attended the 14-day J Robinson Intensive Camp during the summer.

The experience dramatically changed his outlook, work ethic, and how he approached the sport of wrestling. And the rest of his life. MORE including 1-on-1 interview


Bronze Medalist – 1990 US Olympic Festival

2x Espoir All-American/Finalist (Greco-Roman)

Competed in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials (Greco-Roman)

Greco-Roman State Champion (Open Division)

College Wrestler – Humboldt State University

California Junior National Team – 1989 (Greco-Roman)

CIF North Coast Section Medalist – 1989

Team Captain – Livermore High School (NCS)


Masters Degree in Education (University of Phoenix)

BA Degree – Political Science (Humboldt State University)


Army National Guard –  Mortarman and Machine Gunner

Served with B Company, 184th Infantry Air Assault in Kuwait


Professional Actor and a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

The Master (Movie – V.A. Patient)

San Andreas (Movie – Police Officer)

Ant-Man (Movie – Police Officer)

US (Movie – Beach Person)

Steve Jobs (Movie – Chef)

Chance (TV Series – Police Officer)

When We Rise (TV mini-Series – Police Officer)

Looking (TV series – Rugby Player)

Written in Blood (TV – Police Officer)

13 Reasons Why (TV Series – Detective)

I (Almost) Got Away with It (TV Series documentary – Police Officer)

I Solved a Murder (TV Series – Police Officer)

Hemingway & Gellhorn (TV Movie – Solider)

Contagion (Movie – Bystander)


Best Original Screenplay Feature (London Independent Film Awards – Dec. 2018)

Best First Time Screenwriter (Los Angeles Film Awards-Jan 2018)

Official Selection (Beverly Hills Film Festival-2018)

Honorable Mention (Depth of Field International Film Festival (2018)


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