Cooper Taking College Athletics Challenges in Stride

Sam Graham, Layout Editor

Ainsley Cooper has been running for a large portion of her life, so the decision to take her talents to the next level came as no surprise. Anyone who knows Cooper knows she is a big fan of the University of Tennessee, so when she chose to spend her next four years as a Volunteer, it was only fitting.
As a member of the Reagan Cross Country and Track teams, Cooper led the team on and off the course. She was the team captain her senior year and held personal bests of 5:04 in the 1,600 meters, 10:53 in the 3,200 meters and 18:54 in the 5,000 meters. She was a two-time state champion as a member of the 4×800 meter relay and is also part of the Reagan record-holding team in the same event. She was the conference Runner of the Year in cross country her senior year and finished as an All-American at New Balance Nationals in the 4×1,600 meter relay her junior year.
Despite all of Cooper’s accomplishments in her high school career, she is looking forward to everything that lies ahead of her in college running. Any success that comes over the course of her next four years won’t come without a lot of hard work.
“The most different thing about college athletics has definitely been the intensity of the training,” Cooper said. “It requires a very new and different every day than what I needed to be successful in high school.”
Outside of the rigors a new training schedule brings, college athletics have to be balanced with new classes and the overall experience of college. Adjusting to this change can be a lot to take in.
“The transition has been fairly smooth,” said Cooper. “It’s a lot different dynamic from high school with practice in the mornings and not being in class as much. The team has been super helpful and supportive with running and classes. It’s different than what I was used to, but I love it.”
After four years of running at Reagan and spending a year as a team captain, Cooper formed many close relationships with her teammates that she had to leave behind after graduation. She still stays in touch with many of them.
“I definitely miss my high school team since we were all super close, and it’s different becoming adjusted to a new team dynamic but it’s been great,” Cooper said. “Although I really miss my high school teammates, I couldn’t love the team [at Tennessee] more.”
Overall, Cooper’s adjustment to college has been smooth, and she’s prepared and excited for the remainder of her freshman year and the years ahead. She can’t wait to enjoy every minute of the experience.
“I love getting to work hard everyday with my teammates who have quickly become my best friends,” Cooper said.