LEWIS CENTER, Ohio (WCMH) — While the Columbus Blue Jackets season is winding to a close, tryouts for young Blue Jacket hopefuls are just about to amp up.
And one AAA Jacket, who is doing something that’s never been done before, could already be setting him up for a future in the NHL. “He rollerblades in our backyard three, four hours a day. It’s crazy,” describes Jason Hackett. “Between that and YouTube videos, and video games, and…it’s all the time.”
For Cooper Hackett — it’s all hockey, all the time. “All day at school I think about hockey,” smiles Cooper Hackett. His favorite thing about the game: “Scoring goals. The feeling…,” admits Cooper, a member of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.
But this quick-skating, shot-slapping 10-year-old isn’t like most athletes his age. “Obviously he’s very talented. Just naturally gifted, very skilled. But he thinks the game very well, too. He’s smart,” Dale Jordan, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets Hockey Director.
That’s where his coaches say he’s improved most on ice over the past year. And off the ice, “He’s a hardworking kid, listens well, wants to get better,” Jordan boasts. Last April, we introduced you to Cooper when he became just the third Ohioan to ever — and first 9-year-old — to be selected for what’s called “The Brick” — the most prestigious 10-and-under hockey tournament in North America.
Now, as a 10-year-old, he’s the first player ever from Ohio to be invited back a second time. “That made me feel better that l can play with that good level of older kids,” Cooper admits about his first experience at the tournament last summer.
Though he was used to playing with kids older than him, Cooper describes his first experience at ‘The Brick’ in just one word: crazy. “At The Brick building you’re playing in front of so many people that it just makes you nervous,” says Cooper.
“The week was incredible. You can’t even explain it, they’re like little celebrities there, the way they’re treated,” Cooper’s mother, Nikol adds. This time around though, he’s looking forward to a change of roles.
“He’s like the leader out there now, the more experienced one, the one everyone looks up to,” Jason, his father, boasts. The way he spins, and juggles, you’d never know he was nervous. He’s even got “The Michigan Goal” down.
“This year, I’ll probably feel more experienced because I played last year, and I’ll just feel like I fit in more with the guys,” Cooper predicts. But with a bright future, and NHL dreams, for Cooper and his parents, it’s all about creating memories and living in the present. Just staying positive, and having fun with it, enjoying every moment of it really,” says Jason.
Cooper will meet up with his new team for the first time in Pittsburgh in just a couple of weeks, before they begin ramping up preparations for ‘The Brick’ which will be held in July.