New Palestine High School

A legacy of service: Cooper retiring after 39-year career

By Andrew Smith | May 30, 2023 6:55 PM

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New Palestine athletic director Al Cooper has announced his retirement after 39 years as an educator, including 37 at NPHS. A 1979 graduate of NPHS, Cooper returned to New Palestine in 1986 after two years teaching and coaching at Pendleton Heights. Cooper has spent the last 13 years as New Palestine’s athletic director, instilling the program’s core values of commitment, character and class across all 24 programs. “ I have loved my time in education for 39 years and leading an incredible group of coaches, super students, and incredible athletes for the last 13,” Cooper said. “It feels right for me to turn our athletic program over to new leadership, spend time with the family, travel, and just be a fan.” During his tenure as athletic director, the Dragons have won six team and six individual IHSAA state titles in four different sports, as well as numerous sectional and conference championships. In addition, New Palestine has added three varsity sports - unified track, girls wrestling and boys volleyball - and is one of the few schools in Indiana to offer every IHSAA-sanctioned and emerging sport. Prior to becoming AD, Cooper served 17 years as varsity girls basketball coach from 1988-2005, winning four sectional titles and a program-record 228 games. He also spent 10 years as varsity baseball coach, winning a state title in 2004 and leading the Dragons to the title game the year before. Cooper also spent five years as an assistant baseball coach. He also coached golf for five years and was an assistant football coach for 15 years. In the classroom, Cooper taught English before transitioning to the athletic director role in 2010. He has been honored by the IIAAA as the district AD of the year. Cooper was a standout three-sport athlete at NPHS, competing in football, basketball and baseball. He later played baseball at Indiana Central University - now the University of Indianapolis. He is in UIndy’s athletic hall of fame. “I can't say enough about the job our coaches do to provide opportunities for success for our teams and players. NPHS Athletics is a reflection of our community's passion for success,” Cooper said. “Players, parents, coaches, and fans, everyone works together to be successful. I am happy and grateful to have been a part of it for the last 37 years, plus, four years as a player at NPHS. This will always be my home, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.”