Indoor Track and Field
The Apex High School Indoor Track and Field team just competed against rival highschools Cary and Friendship along with a few other teams. The team had a successful meet thanks to Coach Cooper. With years of experience as a track and field athlete himself, Coach Cooper knows what it takes to prepare athletes for competition.
When I asked one of the biggest challenges for the team, Coach Cooper said it is replacing a recently retired jumps coach. He states, “For Apex athletes, I think that the biggest challenge is for the field event athletes since Coach Trezona retired from coaching. He was an outstanding jumps coach and we are having a hard time replacing him.” He goes on to say, “the weather is always an issue. While it is called ‘indoor’ track & field, it really is ‘winter’ track & field since we train outdoors every day and have some (polar bear) meets outdoors. Thus far, the weather has been cooperative. But the arctic blast over the winter break presented difficult conditions in which to train for our athletes.”
Coach Cooper went on to explain the preparation process for indoor competition, saying, “The training follows a progression in all disciplines involved in track & field, but we also have to watch the load placed on the newer runners. It depends on the events as to what they are doing on a week-to-week basis. But as we move into the final month of the season, all of the events will start tapering and moving towards faster workouts as we approach the indoor state meet.”
Motivating his athletes to perform their best is important for Coach Cooper. He says, “I try to get the athletes to identify what their goals are and then continue to keep them focused on what they are trying to achieve. We live in a time that is, I think, a bit difficult. But we also make it more so by listening to seemingly every voice in the world. We all need our inner circle of family and friends, and that is who matters. So I try to get the athletes to hone in on those voices, and to help make the voice in their head the most positive one that they hear.”
I then asked a more personal question about his inspiration to become a track and field coach. Coach Cooper said, “I had enjoyed my career as a track & field athlete in high school and college. When both jobs opened up prior to the 1985-1986 academic year at Apex, I thought it would be an enjoyable thing to do. The inspiration came from being around a lot of collegiate meets at N.C. State as my father was the starter at their meets for years and from appreciating what my coaches had done for me.”
Coach Cooper also emphasized on adapting his coaching style to meet the needs of athletes with different skill levels and goals. He said, “The goal is the same for everyone: to get them to improve. But the conversations with each individual are different. If I’m talking to someone like Maddie Flower, Ella Arnold, Cameron Artis, or Kayden Kimble, then I’m trying to tailor my conversations with them towards getting them each to see their ability to compete on the state or national level. If I’m talking to a new freshman, then I am trying to give them a solid foundation in the basics so that they can improve throughout their high school career.”
With a dedicated coach who is committed to the success of his athletes, it’s no surprise that the Apex High School indoor track and field team has been making a strong showing in competitions. The team’s commitment to improvement and Coach Cooper’s ability to tailor his approach to each individual athlete has set them up for success both now and in the future.
Be sure to come support your fellow Cougars this Friday in Winston Salem!