By Kimberly Harrison
The phrase “Once a Scrapper, always a Scrapper” stands true to Coach Don Cooley.
Cooley was born and raised in Nashville, graduating in 1966, and is now Nashville’s new assistant junior high football and head track coach.
“I’m glad to be finally coaching at Nashville. I’m really looking forward to a great year,” Cooley said.
While Cooley attended Nashville High, he participated in football, basketball and track. In 1965, he was named the Most Valuable Player by the Nashville Rotary Club.
Cooley went on to play football and baseball at Henderson State University, but after one year he decided to only focus on football.
“In college, you basically play one sport all the time. It’s hard to split them, and I was on a football scholarship so I felt like I needed to devote all my time there,” Cooley said.
After graduating with a B.S. in physical education and B.S.E. in social studies, Cooley went into the National Guard for six years.
In 1971, Cooley became head junior high coach of football, baseball and track in Mineral Springs. The following year he became head coach and athletic director.
Cooley even coached future Scrappers during his time at Mineral Springs. According to athletic director James “Bunch” Nichols, Cooley coached him when he was in the seventh grade.
When he left Mineral Springs, he became head coach at Norphlet for two years.
“Norphlet was a bigger and better job,” Cooley said. “I wanted to see if I could be more successful in another place.”
Cooley then came back to Nashville and helped his dad, Steuart Cooley, run a building supply business for 23 years.
“[Running the business] was good. It gave my children a base where they could all go to school,” Cooley said. “Nashville has always been my home town. It was really good for the family.”
Even though he was running the business with his dad, Cooley continued to coach.
“I was always around [football]. I was a volunteer coach while the kids were in school,” Cooley said. “I followed it real close.”
After deciding to shut down the business in 2006, Cooley started assistant coaching in Mineral Springs. He became head coach at in 2009, and in 2011 Cooley began coaching at Nashville. At NJHS, he will coach the offensive line.
“I enjoy being around everyone and trying to help carry on the tradition,” Cooley said. “I am very thankful to have the opportunity to help with the school.”
Cooley and his wife, Lynne, have three kids; Todd, Kristi and Paige.
All graduated from Nashville High and were very active members in the school.
In 1993, Todd was named MVP, just as Cooley was his senior year.
Cooley and his son are the only father-son duo to receive this award.
“It was a very proud moment,” Cooley said. “You always like to see your kids succeed and to do something that you also did.”
In his 12 years of coaching, Cooley has seen many changes in football.
“The speed of the game is a lot quicker. The biggest change is the offensive lineman can push the players away while we could not,” Cooley said. “The fundamentals and basics are still the same.”
While Cooley has coached baseball, football, track and basketball, he said that football has always been his “first love.”
“I am extremely happy. The guys I’m working with are extremely nice,” Cooley said. “I know a lot about the [Scrapper] tradition, and I’m looking forward to being a Scrapper again.”
Cooley is also looking forward to the upcoming football season.
“The kids are working hard,” Cooley said. “The tradition carries us a long way. Nashville will always do good.”