Leaving Cisco Junior College in the mid-1970s, Roy Cooper was invited to Durant, Okla. and Southeastern State University, where they were putting together a rodeo team.
“They picked me,” Cooper recalled. “The president (of the university) called me and asked if I could make a team.
“We didn’t have a coach. I put the team together.”
Success soon followed for the start-up program.
“We won every rodeo. My two years there we won national titles. They ended up winning four in a row,” Cooper said. “We put Durant on the map.”
Forty years later, Cooper is now being inducted in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The Decatur resident was one of six inductees named this year for enshrinement. The class also includes Congressman and former Oklahoma quarterback J.C. Watts, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter and NFL All-Pro Leslie O’Neal.
“It’s the class that you go in with that is memorable,” Cooper said.
Cooper, an eight-time world champion, who has been inducted in multiple hall of fames, including the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, said this honor is special.
“This one is not just for rodeo,” Cooper said. “It’s for all sports. That’s the icing on the cake. It’s special when you look at who is in there like Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders. It’s a great honor to me.”
Following going to school in Durant, Cooper made it his home for 12 years.
Aside from it being his place of residence, Cooper will always be fond of Oklahoma because it’s where he captured his world titles after splashing on the scene as the 1976 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association Rookie of the Year and winning the calf roping title and the first world title.
Oklahoma City held the National Finals Rodeo prior to the event heading west to Las Vegas.
“Oklahoma has been a great state for me,” Cooper said.
After spending more than a decade in Oklahoma, he moved to Childress and later to Decatur, where he and his sons – Tuf, Clif and Clint – have helped make it the world’s new cowboy capital.
Cooper still visits Southeastern Oklahoma. He put on a clinic Oct. 17-18 on campus as he continues to deliver on his promise to deliver a championship to the school.
- Monday will be Christmas for sports writers and some athletic directors with the unveiling of the University Interscholastic League’s biennial realignment. Some ADs may think it’s Halloween, depending on which district they get saddled with. This year, there’s some added confusion with the renaming of the classes with 5A now becoming 6A. It’s not what many of us hoped with a classification being added as now Class A Division II is now getting its own league and everyone is bumped up one. There’s also the change in what was once 3A and is now 4A with the division splits for football like was previously done in the lower two classes. So once again, 12 football state champions will be crowned and six or fewer in the other sports. A revolutionary fix I would like to see is 10 classifications that use consistent districts for every UIL activity. Yes, to divide the schools up into these 10 divisions would increase some travel – but for equality it should be done. If 12 state champions are needed for football because of the disparity between large and small schools in each division, I don’t see how it’s not for basketball, softball, baseball and so on,
- Decatur basketball fans may hope to see the school land back in region I this coming realignment. According to the latest on the UIL site, perennial basketball power Dallas Lincoln will be in 4A Region II along with other Dallas schools – Carter, Wilmer Hutchins, Madison and Triple A Academy.
- Joining the football ranks this realignment will be longtime basketball power Brock in 3A.
- Realignment should bring a new fun rivalry with Byron Nelson and Northwest squaring off.
- Along with realignment, next week will also feature national letter of intent day, as high school seniors sign with colleges.
- A few names Decatur and Bridgeport fans will remember from Wichita Falls Hirschi are making big impacts on the collegiate level. Kansas State freshman Marcus Foster is 14th in the Big 12, averaging 13.4 points per game. At Old Dominion, Richard Ross is putting in 9.1 points and grabbing 7.4 rebounds per night. Ross and his Monarchs will be in Denton Feb. 13 to play the University of North Texas.
- Sunday’s Super Bowl should be a super matchup with the game’s best quarterback, Peyton Manning and best offense Denver face off against the league’s best secondary and defense of Seattle. Defense is supposed to win championships, but it’s hard to pick against Manning. I’m going with Denver just because I trust Manning to make the play in a tight game. This is one of the few Super Bowls that I’m looking more forward to the game than the commercials.
- Finally, a strong case can be made that Jan. 31 may be one of the most important days in baseball history. Jackie Robinson, Nolan Ryan and Ernie Banks share it as a birthday.
Richard Greene is the sports editor of the Messenger. Follow him on Twitter @wcm_rgreene.