Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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Sparks Guard Te’a Cooper Focuses On The Bigger Picture
By Khari Jones, Jr., Contributing Writer
Published January 13, 2021

1. Te’a Cooper signs contract with the Sparks. (Courtesy of the L.A. Sparks)

The Los Angeles Sparks signed guard Te’a Cooper and could not be more excited. In Cooper’s rookie year, she averaged 7.0 points, 1.0 rebound, 2.0 assists per game. She was top ten in scoring among all rookies.

After the signing, Cooper spoke with reporters and thanked her fans, family, friends, teammates, and the front office for believing in her. Coming into Cooper’s rookie season, she had a unique opportunity to play with high-level veterans such as Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray, and Seimone Augustus.

Head coach Derek Fisher, a 5-time NBA champion, played a significant role in Cooper’s development. She watched him growing up.

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Cooper said, “I want to thank everyone for believing in me last year during a tough time. They made my experience in the bubble one to remember, and I’m going to give 110%. The young star wants to be a better player on and off the court. “I’m just glad to be on a team that has championship expectations, and I can’t wait.”

There could not be a better time for athletes to utilize their platforms to make a difference in the communities. Cooper strives to use her voice, and she is inspired by her leader and teammate Ogwumike, who is also the WNBPA President.

She said, “The world is so crazy. I was able to be on a team with [Nneka], president of the WNBPA. She is awesome. Being in the bubble, many people supported her and her ability to speak up and be the forefront of us standing together as a league. To watch that and see what they have done, it was very motivating and encouraging to do the same. I have hopes for change in the future.”

Head Coach Derek Fisher helps Cooper on and off the court. (Courtesy of the L.A. Sparks)

Cooper is still a young player, and she needs time to think about her off the court goals. When asked about it, she said, “I haven’t even thought about off the court goals yet because things are still happening. I’m kind of letting all that settle in. I’ll figure that out once I get to L.A.”

As far as the on-court goals, Cooper was clear about wanting to work on her midrange game, shooting all around, and specifically defense. “I want my defense to speak volumes. I want to win Defensive Player of the Year. I want to be efficient.”

Head coach Fisher was the first male to coach Cooper outside of her dad. She praised him for being there for her teammates outside of basketball.

“It was amazing to see him have our backs and be there for us, whether it was personal things off the court and just understanding us being a woman. He was there for us. He cared. It’s amazing having a coach like that.”

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This off-season, Cooper has been working hard to get to the next level. During the press conference, she discussed her training regimen and everything she has been doing to reach her goals.

Cooper uses her emotional intelligence to refrain from getting overwhelmed when adversity hits. Instead of focusing on things she cannot control, working in the gym is her outlet for peace.

Regarding contracts, Cooper stated, “I stay in the middle and control what I can control, and that’s myself. I stay in the gym. I do things that I can focus on.”

Te’a Cooper has emerged as an influential voice in Women’s sports. (Courtesy of the L.A. Sparks)

She continued, “The time I have with my family, all that stuff is special to me, so I just try to stay optimistic and positive about things. That’s the only choice you really have.”

Growing up, Cooper wanted to be a role model for her siblings. She noted her dad always pushed them to be the best version of themselves, made sure they had goals and plans. “I think my brother looked up to me at a very young age. My schedule was crazy, and I knew they were watching.” Everything Cooper’s dad told her growing up came to fruition.

Cooper’s brother is a freshman basketball player at Auburn, Sharife Cooper. He recently played in his first game after being cleared from the NCAA. “He was cleared. That was a hard thing for him also, not being able to play for no reason. I was happy for him. He showed out in his debut. As a family, we made sure we were there,” said Cooper.

According to Cooper, what makes their family unique is how close they are off the court.

Categories: Basketball | Local | Sports
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