FULTON, Mo. – Westminster College Women's Basketball Head Coach James Arnold has announced that Clifton Cooper has been elevated to Associate Head Coach after 17 strong seasons as an assistant coach for Blue Jay women's basketball.
"I'm honored to be named the Associate Head Coach I want to thank Coach Arnold for the opportunity," said Cooper. "We're looking forward to this upcoming season. "
Cooper's primary role in the recent seasons has been overseeing the post position. Last season, the team was second in the nation in offensive rebounding. Grace Archambault, a starting freshman post player for the Blue Jays last season, was named the conference Newcomer of the Year along with an All-Defense selection.
"Coach Coop is a massive part of what is Westminster women's basketball," said Head Coach James Arnold. "His expertise and experiences proved to be super helpful in my first season and I am ecstatic to be able to move him to this much deserved position."
Cooper joined the Westminster women's basketball program as the assistant coach in 2001 and has been part of all of the success of the women's basketball program since that time.
Cooper assisted the team in 04-5 with Head Coach Scott Billey, when the team earned its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament berth since the 1999 season and tied its best finish in the regular season since the '99 season at third.
In the 08-09 season under Head Coach Tracey Braden, Cooper assisted the team that finished second in the SLIAC, the highest ever finish for a Blue Jay program.
In the 2010-11 season, Cooper was part of the 16-0 team that went undefeated in the regular season, finishing atop the SLIAC for the first time in program history. Despite losing in the championship game of the SLIAC Tournament, the season marked the first-ever 20-win season for the Blue Jays.
In the 2011-12 season, however, Cooper, Braden, and the Blue Jays came out just as strong. They recorded a 14-2 SLIAC record to once again win the regular season, and won the SLIAC Tournament for the first time, receiving the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. The team lost to Depauw in the first round. The 22-win season broke the previous year's record and still stands as a program-best in wins for a season.
In 2012-13, the team once again finish atop the SLIAC with a 14-2 regular season record, and finished the season with another win in the SLIAC Tournament for the team's second straight automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. After losing to Simpson in the opening round of the tournament, the team finished the season 17-11.
The 15-16 season yielded yet another SLIAC regular season winner, with a team that went 16-2 during the regular season. After losing in the championship of the SLIAC Tournament, the Blue Jays had yet another 20-win season with a record of 21-5.
Cooper originally joined the Blue Jay family in 1999 as the defensive backs coach for the football team. He assisted the football team through the 2008 season when he decided to focus on the women's basketball program.
Cooper came to Westminster from Central Methodist where he served as an assistant football coach for six seasons. Prior to Central Methodist, he was the assistant coach for Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri for eight years.
Cooper attended Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas before transferring to Purdue University. He played collegiate football at Purdue and graduated with a degree in recreational management.
Cooper is a Boonville native and now resides in Fulton, Missouri.
What others are saying about Cooper…
"I couldn't be more excited for Coach Coop. During my four seasons at Westminster he was often a calming force during intense situations, and supported our team in all aspects of the game. I know he will continue to do the same for all the current and future Lady Jays. Westminster is very lucky!" – Andrea Zalis, Westminster's All Time Leading Scorer, 2013-17
"Coach Cooper 'Coop' is a staple for the Westminster Women's Basketball Program! He was my right arm while I was at WC. When I think of words that best describe Coop; loyalty, integrity, humility and team player immediately come to mind. It really is impossible for me to adequately describe how beneficial and important he was to me and all the ladies that have played for him! The advancement to Associate Head Coach is so deserving for Coop!" – Tracey Braden, Sewanee Head Women's Basketball Coach, former Westminster Women's Basketball Coach 2007-17
"Coop has brought a huge amount of experience and energy to the Blue Jay women's basketball program, which has reflected in a lot of success during his time in Fulton. He is a great recruiter, develops fundamental skills and has a lot of respect from past and current players. His fingerprints are all over the program along with his leadership in our league and definitely some of the competitive battles we have had over the years. Couldn't be happier for a more deserving coach of this promotion!" - Jordan Olufson, Webster University Head Coach
"Coach Cooper is a terrific coach and I'm so happy that he is receiving this opportunity! More than that, he is a great man who has done a lot of good things for Westminster over the years. Congrats Coach!" – Charlie Just, Spalding Women's Basketball Head Coach