Cooper reflects on All-American career at WVWC

BUCKHANNON – All-American soccer player Mary Cooper is ready for life after college following a tremendous senior year at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Elizabeth, Pa., is where it all started for Cooper, who developed a habit for the game at just 6 years old. Standing out in her travel club and high school teams gave her the opportunity to receive college recognition.

Cooper was originally visiting Davis & Elkins College, but on her way back she found herself passing through the Buckhannon area when her mother, a Wesleyan alumni, wanted to show her daughter the college. It was love at first sight for Cooper. She then spoke to Patrick Holguin, the women’s head coach at the time, and decided to apply for Wesleyan. The rest is history.

It wasn’t always easy for Cooper trying to settle into the Lady Bobcats, but with mental toughness, hard work and a great attitude she got through it.

“As much as I hated it, sitting on the bench my freshman year was a defining moment in my career here,” Cooper said. “I worked hard, and I started playing in the spring season and then my sophomore year I started every single game from then on.”

The defender would build an invincible partnership with 2015 All-American Rachel Ritchie. The pair would lead LBC to an undefeated regular season, winning both the 2015 Mountain East Conference regular season championship and tournament championship. During that run, the team conceded just two goals and registered 18 shutouts.

“I learned a lot from Rachel,” Coopers said. “I was around her and watched her play my entire freshman year. I then got to play beside her my sophomore year and we were able to lead the team to a lot of shutouts that season and an undefeated season.”

Cooper would receive FirstTeam All-American herself at the end of her senior season. It was an award she didn’t think she would be in the running for, but Cooper then started to receive conference recognition and regional recognition.

With her coaches believing in her and constantly talking about it, Cooper still didn’t believe she would receive All-American status until the teams came out and there her name was under First Team All-American.

“It didn’t feel real and still doesn’t feel real,” Cooper said.

Kevin Holguin, the women’s assistant coach who followed Cooper to the All-American convention in Philadelphia, made sure Cooper knew how unique this achievement was for her and helped her understand what it takes to get recognized at that level.

“I wanted to make sure that Mary understood how unique this opportunity was,” Holguin said. “To gain recognition at the highest level, not just by her peers but by coaches nationwide at all levels of the game.”

Once she graduates from Wesleyan, Cooper plans to potentially play overseas and receiving her masters in exercise physiology, stay in the states to become a graduate assistant, or become an assistant coach. She believes this will be an amazing opportunity for her to further her career and she is looking forward to journey.

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