Excelsior Springs' Todd Cooper inducted into Missouri Track Coaches Hall of Fame
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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS—Excelsior Springs native son, Todd Cooper, was inducted into the Missouri State Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in Columbia last Friday. Cooper was honored as an athlete and a coach and joined four other coaches in the award including Kearney High School Coach Jeff Roberts.
“It is a great honor to be inducted into this fraternity. We have had so many outstanding Track and Field athletes and coaches over the years in the state of Missouri, ” Cooper said.
As a high school athlete, Cooper was 1981 State Pole Vault Champion and a 1981 High School All-American. His high school best was 15’-7”.
In college, he broke the Baylor University school record 16 times with a final personal best of 18’ 9.75” and was named Baylor Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 1983 and 1985. Cooper was a four-time Southwest Conference Champion, Conference record holder, three-time NCAA Division I All-American, two-time National Champion Runner Up and two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier.
Cooper trained vaulters for three years at Baylor University 1989 to 1991 where he coached seven athletes over 17’, three athletes over 18’ and one athlete over an NCAA Record 19’-2 3/4”.
In 1994, he returned home to coach basketball in his home town and later coached track. In 13 years at Excelsior Springs High School, Coopers boy and girl vaulters won 20 Conference Championships, 17 District Championships, seven state championships, six state championship runner up’s and 37 All-State jumping Awards.
Cooper established Just Vault in 1999 to provide personalized, in-depth vaulting instruction. Just Vault provides private lessons as well as personalized individual training. He and his dad built the facility located outside of Excelsior Springs off of MO92 and RA because he knew to build champions, vaulters needed a place to train year round.
Cooper stated, “I first built this building so that my high school vaulters would have some place to train in the cold weather. It cost a lot of money to build, equip and heat so I started doing a few camps for other kids in the area to help offset the costs.”
Since 2010, Cooper has dedicated himself full-time to training athletes at Just Vault. As the owner of Just Vault, Cooper has worked with over 250 All-State vaulters from all over the Midwest. He has coached 39 state champions and currently trains the number-one ranked high school girl pole-vaulter in the United States.
He credits former Excelsior Springs High School coach Bob Curtis for much of his success. “Coach Curtis had one particular saying or belief that he shared all the time and that was ‘If you work hard good things will happen’. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? But he actually believed it!, “ Cooper stated. “You could tell the way he said it he actually believed this simple saying. And pretty soon I started to believe. He didn’t know a lot about pole vaulting, but he knew a lot about opportunity and hard work and so did my father, Gary Cooper. In fact I think a big part of why I believed Coach Curtis saying was because I grew up watching my father work hard and be successful and, luckily for me, my father did know a little bit about pole vaulting. Dad taught me some incredible fundamentals at a young age that are still a part of my technical coaching beliefs.”
Carl Erickson, who trained Cooper at Baylor University, is another coach he credits with helping him attain his achievements. “Coach Erickson was a unique individual to say the least. He was very tough, demanding and challenging. You either loved him or hated him. I loved him,” Cooper said. “He had a great passion for the event and so did I. Sometimes we would literally spend hours upon hours working on some small technical detail. But he also had a way of making you believe that you could be great! And all the passion in the world is no good unless you truly believe.”
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