Jim Ned girls basketball coach Hunter Cooley starred at Hawley as a player and is in the ACU Hall of Fame. In the last 22 years, he’s become a fixture on the Jim Ned High School campus and in the administration building. He coached the boys from 1998 to 2010 with a trip to the state tournament, but then, all of a sudden, he quit to focus on his duties as the Chief Financial Officer for Jim Ned.
Hunter Cooley said, “I had already been from the classroom to the administration building, so I didn’t have any interaction with the kids there. Basketball was the only avenue where you had that interaction, and then, to go completely away from that was pretty tough.”
It didn’t take long for the urge to return to the sidelines hit, and he took over the Lady Indians program in 2012. So, how do you go from coaching boys basketball to coaching girls? What is the difference? Cooley says he took a different approach at first, but now, not so much.
Cooley said, “I was already a ‘girl dad,’ so I kind of had that working in my favor. Honestly, when the ball goes up, I can’t tell the difference. It’s basketball, and I think there’s a lot of time you spend your time telling the girls, ‘You’re better than you think you are.’ I can remember back coaching some of the boys, and ‘Dude, you’re not quite as good as you think you are.'”
So what about the players. What do they say about their coach? Does Cooley take it easy on them?
Claire Graham said, “I would say he treats us pretty much like he would treat the boys. He yells at us all the time. Which he should. I feel like we are harder to coach because we are more emotional a lot of the times.
Ashton Garner said, “…pretty driven. When he wants something to be done, he makes it apparent. He’s not hard all of the time, but in basketball, he’s hard.”
The Lady Indians, just like the Indians when Cooley coached them, are a regular in the playoffs, and are a threat to advance to the state tournament every year. He’s used to winning on game day, but that’s not where the real wins come for him.
Cooley said, “The wins, for me, come every day right here. What we are about to do. Practice is the studying and the homework. The test comes on Tuesday and Friday nights, but you know what the result is. If you’ve done your homework, you know, you may get beat, but you are going to play well, and you’re going to compete, and that’s a win.”
Jim Ned Lady Indians head coach Hunter Cooley is the Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union Coach of the Week.