Football players are constantly judged by their stats. How many touchdowns does the quarterback have? How many yards does the running back rush? How many tackles does the linebacker make? Yet, football is not just numbers. Football molds athletes into who they are. Greg Cooper, senior football player for Lenape Valley High School, is more than just an athlete with insane numbers and a person who has decided to make the most of them: Greg Cooper is Morris Sussex Sports Wolverine.
Greg Cooper is the Patriot’s middle linebacker, starting his final year of football at 6-3, 225 pounds. He had 1.5 sacks, 101 tackles, and 1 interception as a junior. But Cooper doesn’t rely on his past record or intimidating size. His unstoppable on-the-field play comes from an unending need to work hard and a determination to improve. How does our Wolverine train? “I do team lifts, I work out in the gym on my off days, and do sessions at Parisi Speed School,” Cooper explains.
Cooper is already bringing that work ethic to the pre-season. The Lenape Valley team attended camp in June where he was checking out local programs including Randolph and Newton. In addition, Lenape Valley scrimmaged North Warren. “It was great to see the competition and it had an big impact on the team,” Cooper says about the match-up.
Cooper didn’t always play middle linebacker. Freshman year he attended Morris Catholic High School, where he played on the outside. When he arrived at Lenape Valley a new opportunity presented itself and Cooper jumped on it. Cooper explains the shift: “My sophomore year, the middle linebacker position needed to be filled so I raised my hand and volunteered to play and the position became mine on JV.” The Wolverine quickly learned his new role. That year, he led the team in tackles. Also during his sophomore year, Cooper got some time on varsity due to injuries.
Now with two years of varsity experience under his belt, has game routine is finely tuned—including a superstition or two. Next time you watch the Patriots, you might notice number 89 playing in short sleeves—no matter the weather. Cooper won’t wear anything else. Also, you might notice his fan section, including his mom, dad, his freshmen sister and seventh grade brother.
Even though the season has not officially started, Cooper is planning for what will happen after he suits up for the Patriots the last time. With his gridiron talent and 3.7 GPA, he’ll surely have no trouble finding a college program to continue his football playing, but he’s looking for more than some fun on a college field: he’s looking for a scholarship. Schools on his list include Lafayette, Bucknell, Monmouth, Scared Heart in Connecticut, as well as Fordham where his Dad played D1 football and his Mom played D1 volleyball. All options are on the table as he attends camps, a process he describes as one that “helps me build relationships with coaches and also helps me eliminate colleges from my list.” After camp ends, Cooper follows up with emails to coaches—all without help from his parents.
In most sports statistics decide which athlete is the best, and Greg Cooper had 101 tackles last year which is what makes him super-human and an obvious choice as our Wolverine, a creature that uses animal-like senses to quickly and effectively read plays. But Greg Cooper is more than just those numbers and tackles. He does not just work to improve his football career; he is constantly working on improving everything he does, whether it’s playing football, planning his future, or maintaining those grades. He goes after it all with animal-like senses and super-human intensity. Point our Wolverine in the right direction, and get out of the way, world.
About the Author
Marcella Parisi is a Mendham High School junior who has been around sports most of her life, whether following her brothers to soccer fields, marching across football fields as a Mendham High School color guard captain, or watching the NFL on RedZone. In addition to her obsession with sports, she is a peer leader, a Relay for Life team captain and committee member, and she works on stage crew and production team for school plays. Marcella is an honor roll student, a peer tutor, a representative on the student council, and a member of International Club.