Athlete of the week: Briley Cooper became a key figure for LaGrange soccer in her freshman season

Published 4:09 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Briley Cooper broke onto the scene this year. After a relatively slow start to her high school soccer career, the freshman came in strong down the stretch of the 2024 campaign to help the team make it to the Elite Eight.

Cooper came into the season expecting to play mostly JV. After impressing in her first couple of JV games, coach Jon Callahan promoted her to varsity and she took off from there.

“For the first two games, I just played JV and then they moved me up to varsity and I was very surprised,” Cooper said. “I was so nervous when I got my first start, I thought I was going to throw up.”

One of the major reasons she had a slow start to the season was the fact that she was still recovering from a broken ankle that occurred right before the flag football season was set to start last fall.

“I was really, really out of shape because I went like three months without doing anything. The first game or two I was really, really out of shape, but I was able to get back into shape by the end of the season,” she said.

It took her a little while to get going, but once she did, it was a special run down the stretch. Cooper scored her first goal against Troup and then proceeded to add two more goals to her tally in the first and second rounds of the state playoffs. Cooper did not expect to receive much varsity playing time coming into the season, much less scoring goals in the playoffs.

“It was an amazing experience,” Cooper said. “I was not expecting to score goals. I was thinking I might come in and get a few assists and that would be it.

“My first goal was a shock. I tried to walk off and act like it was a normal thing, but then I started to get really excited.”

She bet on herself and went to work at practice to earn her a spot in the rotation. Cooper had help along the way, including a helping hand from sophomore Reese Humphries, who also broke onto the scene as a freshman.

“Reese really helped me get adjusted to varsity,” Cooper said. “She would stay after practice and helped me with my shooting and stuff like that.”

Cooper made an impact this season but is poised for an even bigger role next season. Starting forward Sam Cottle and starting winger Karley Perry are set to graduate and Cooper has made it her goal to fill in one of those spots next season.

“This year was very humbling. There’s definitely some really good players on the team and it really made me realize that I need to work a lot harder and work on my skills,” Cooper said. “We are losing a lot of our best-attacking players and we are going to need somebody to fill those spots and I’m going to work hard to be one that does.”

There will be big shoes for Cooper to fill, but she has the talent and commitment to be the next dynamic winger for the Grangers.

Cooper comes not from a soccer family but was introduced to the sport at a young age and fell in love with it. It would not be long before she got the rest of her family into the sport as well.

There have been other sports, like cross country, over the years, but they never seemed to stick like soccer did. 

After missing her freshman flag football season with an injury, Cooper is excited to get back on the gridiron in the fall.

“I broke my ankle, I think it was two days before our first game, so I’m looking forward to playing this year,” Cooper said with a chuckle. “The team is really good, but they don’t take it too seriously and like to have fun.”

This is just the beginning for Cooper. The freshman phenom still has three more years in blue and white and is aiming to etch her name into LaGrange soccer lore.