Announcements and Important Events
Cooper, 39, has built Columbus East into a state wrestling power. He took over as head coach in the 2003-04 season after two years as an assistant. He led the Olympians to the first Hoosier Hills Conference title in school history in 2011 and has added three more HHC championships the past three years.
In 2018, Cooper was named state Coach of the Year by both the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association and the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
“He took over a program that was in real need of an infusion of a get-after-it-type attitude,” said Eric Wohlford, who nominated Cooper for the award. “When he started, they were pretty low on the totem pole, and they were losing continually to Columbus North. It’s got to a point where they’re perennial state contenders.”
Cooper was an All-Conference offensive lineman in football and did not start wrestling until his junior year of high school.
“He was very quiet, unassuming, never heard a word out of him,” Wohlford said. “He led by example and was just a great guy. His whole family is that way.”
Cooper attended Purdue and graduated in 2001 with a degree in flight technology.
“I was in the hiring pool at Chautauqua Airlines, and then 9/11 really put a lot of strain on that market,” Cooper said.
So Cooper worked at Cummins Data Center for four years, and in the meantime, went back and earned a math degree from Indiana University after beginning his coaching career. He landed a teaching job at Central Middle School in 2008, then moved over to East High School two years later.
Cooper learned of his selection while in Orlando, Florida, coaching the Olympians in the Disney Duals. They returned home on Thursday.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but it’s not something necessarily that you expect,” Cooper said. “I’m from Columbus. My entire family is from Columbus. It’s nice to have other people recognize what we’re doing. We work pretty hard, and we’re here trying to build our program for the community, and it’s nice to be recognized for that.”
Cramer Award winner
Name: Chris Cooper
High school: Columbus East
Colleges: Purdue, Indiana University
Occupation: Math teacher and head wrestling coach at Columbus East