Calli Cooper got a surprise Monday morning – coaches told her she’d been named the Sooner Athletic Conference women’s soccer Newcomer of the Year.
“I was really happy about it. I was proud of myself,” said Cooper, a freshman at the USAO. “It feels really nice. I feel like I couldn’t have done it without the other girls on the team.”
Cooper, of Norman, began her soccer career early, following in the footsteps of her older brother and sister. She grew up on the sport and decided to pursue it in college.
She netted 26 goals for the Drovers during the season and came in No. 1 in the division in assists with 18.
“She’s had a great year as a freshman. She’s talented – very talented,” said USAO Head Coach Jimmy Hampton, who’s coached Cooper since she was young in recreational soccer. “She was able to score some big goals for us … and she’s only going to get better.”
Hampton said if Cooper continues to play hard, she has potential to be an All-American.
“I hope to keep making a difference on the team to keep helping out the team,” Cooper said. “If awards come in the future, that’s just a benefit.”
Cooper ranks No. 1 in the division in assists per game (1) and shots per game (8.06); No. 2 in points per game (3.89), total points (70) and total goals (26); and No. 3 in goals per game (1.44).
Cooper and the Lady Drovers ended the season at 13-6, one of the best records of the program.
All-SAC Second Team includes junior midfielder Brittany Jay, sophomore midfielder Gabby Martinez and freshman forward Taylor Fain.
COACH JIMMY HAMPTON
With one team heading to the national tournament and the other finishing with a great 13-6 record, it’s no wonder Hampton was named SAC Coach of the Year.
In the 11 years heading the soccer program at the USAO, this is the first time Hampton has received the honor.
“It’s a good staff,” Hampton said. “More than anything, it’s a testament to the staff we have, and the team(s).”
Hampton has been the head coach to both the men’s and the women’s soccer teams at USAO since the programs started in 1998. Hampton has an overall record for both teams of 262-191-26.
He is backed by assistant coaches Alexis Vizarelis, Eric Clopton, Tony Orsi and Tommy Hubbard.
David Otieno, one of Hampton’s new players, said Hampton is a good coach not only because he helps the team and the program improve, but also because he helps instill good character into his players. Otieno was named SAC Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year also.
In addition to his commitment to the university, Hampton coaches at the recreational level in surrounding Oklahoma City metro communities and has been the director of girl’s coaching for seven years and the director of boys coaching for four years with the Oklahoma Football Club.
Cooper has been playing soccer under Hampton since she started playing and said his recruiting really made a difference in the teams’ successes this year.
“He deserves (the honor) more than anyone I can think of,” she said. “He honestly taught me everything I know.”
Hampton will leave with the Drover men’s soccer team Thursday afternoon for Hastings College in Nebraska, where the team will compete in the first round of the National Tournament at 5 p.m. Saturday.