MACHESNEY PARK (WREX) — From football, to baseball. James Cooper, fresh off a NIC-10 football title as the quarterback for Harlem, is heading back to the diamond for the first time since his freshman year to play baseball and finish his high school career.
"One thing me and my parents are big on is high school, it's something you'll never get back, don't ever take anything for granted," said Cooper. "You know, this is the last time I'll be able to play a high school sport and I missed out on basketball already because it was before football and I didn't want to take the chance of getting hurt before football, so yeah I'm just taking the opportunity to play one last high school sport."
The transition from football to baseball isn't the easiest and something that's new since football was played in the spring this year.
"It's different, especially coming from football, especially the terminology. People would think I come out here and know what I'm talking about," said Cooper with a smile. "I still talk about throwing touchdowns, that's out of bounds, that's a penalty. Physically playing it's definitely different because quarterback I wouldn't say I just stand there and throw the ball but I run around. Baseball you got to bend over, have to reach and I don't really do that at quarterback so you got to get back used to it again."
The addition of James to a talented group has head baseball coach Scott McCloy beaming with excitement.
"Announcing the football games I know he had a rifle arm and it's been a joy to watch him for four years and mature both on and off the field, and to bring the maturity to the baseball field and obviously the arm that he has," said McCloy. "But not only just the arm, but he's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun we have a really good team that's a lot of fun right now and he's adding more fun to it."
Serving as a leader at Harlem but also someone kids can look up to is something James takes a lot of pride in.
"It feels amazing," said Cooper. "I just hope I give the people below me a chance to, I wouldn't quite say look up to me but give them the hope to do whatever they do to be the best they can."
James Cooper, soaking up his last high school season, while having a lot of fun doing it.