By Rob Potter
NEWBURGH Donald Cooper III will soon be a member of a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I track and field team.
Last Friday, Cooper, who is a senior at Newburgh Free Academy, signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Alabama this fall. He will receive a partial athletic scholarship to compete for the university’s men’s track and field team.
“I went down for a visit and I loved it,” Cooper said.
His final two college choices were SUNY Albany and Alabama and Cooper decided on Alabama following a good visit to the Tuscaloosa campus.
When asked if the warmer weather in the Camellia State influenced his decision, Cooper answered quickly.
“The weather factored in; it was nice there,” he said.
Naturally, Cooper is excited about having the opportunity to compete for a top college track and field program.
His family members, including father Donald Cooper II of Mileses who accompanied him on the recruiting visit to Alabama, are pleased as well.
“They’re all really happy for me,” Cooper said.
The Head Coach of the Crimson Tide men’s track and field team is Harvey Glance, who was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team.
Cooper said he had the chance to meet Coach Glance and several of the current team members during his recent visit to the Alabama campus. He plans to compete in the decathlon for the Crimson Tide, as well as the 200-meter and 400-meter events.
As of last week, the Crimson Tide was No. 9 in the Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Division I Outdoor Track and Field rankings.
After competing for the Sullivan West football, boys’ indoor track and field and boys’ outdoor track and field teams for three years, Cooper transferred to NFA for the 2007-2008 school year. He ran cross country last fall for the Goldbacks and competed for the school’s indoor track and field team this winter.
This spring, Cooper is running for the Goldbacks’ 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. He is also competing in the high jump and open 200.
In addition, he is training for the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) decathlon, which is scheduled to be held May 12 and 13.
When asked if transferring to Newburgh helped his athletic career, Cooper was quick to answer.
“Definitely, the coach here is amazing,” he said of NFA Coach Malcolm Burkes. “He breaks down different aspects of your running style and he has helped me a lot.”
Last July, Cooper was a member of the Hudson Valley Empire State Games team and won the gold medal in the boys’ scholastic decathlon event.
He plans to compete in this summer’s Empire State Games, which will be held July 23-27 in the greater Binghamton area.
Just a few weeks later, Cooper, who said he plans to major in sports management, will begin the fall semester at Alabama.