The sophomore wrestler from Bremen High School has been selected to participate in the Down Under Sports wrestling program next summer in Australia and New Zealand.
The invitation comes on the heels of a freshman campaign that saw Cooper go 48-11 overall with an individual Class A state title at 126 pounds during the Blue Devils’ fourth consecutive Class A traditional state championship last February.
Now this is just another opportunity to check off one more item on Cooper’s to-do list.
“It means a lot. It’s been a dream to go wrestle out of the country. Now that I finally get the chance to, I’m going to take advantage of it. Hopefully, it’s just the next step to do something greater. I’m blessed,” Cooper said.
The Bremen wrestling program is no stranger to accolades. Over the past four years, the Blue Devils have dominated the mat in Class A to seven team titles with numerous individual titles, including five last season. But this is another opportunity for the school’s name and image to branch out.
“Any time you get positive recognition, it helps. It’s just another milestone for us,” Bremen coach Tony Armas said. “That will be a good experience for him. A lot more fun than hanging out in Bremen in the summer, I’m sure — as much fun as Bremen can be.”
As part of the USA wrestling team, Cooper will spend four days in New Zealand competing and sightseeing before a trip to Australia’s Gold Coast for more sightseeing and beach wrestling in early July.
The process of being chosen was easy enough for Cooper, whose wrestling spoke for itself — with some help from his coaches.
“One day at school, [Armas] was coming through school with a bunch of papers and he gave me an envelope. I didn’t enter for it or anything, they just sent me the letter. I took advantage of it,” Cooper said. “We’re in the process of fund-raising for it and we’ve about got mine paid for. So hopefully I’ll be going.”
While the opportunity for one of Armas’ top grapplers to wrestle over the summer against some top competition and get better is appealing to the Bremen coach, it is also an opportunity for Cooper to grow as a person.
“He’s going to go to New Zealand and Australia. The best thing about going to a foreign country like that is you don’t have to learn a foreign language. That’s a positive, for sure. I think it will be a good experience for him. It may be good wrestling-wise, but the thing is you get to see how different people live and how things go in other parts of the world,” Armas said.
As for Cooper, with one championship down, the goal is to be one of the few Georgia wrestlers who can say they are four-time individual champions.
“It drives me. Since the sixth grade, I’ve been dreaming about being a four-timer. I’ve seen kids come through here and win it three times or win it twice and they’re just heartbroken when they lose that one, and I don’t want to feel that. Hopefully, I can keep it going and keep on winning state titles,” Cooper said.
But before hitting the beaches down under, the sophomore has to worry about this year donning the Bremen blue.
“I’ve been waiting for this season to get going since last season ended. I’m ready to go back out on the mat and show people what I can do. Hopefully, win another state title,” Cooper said.