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Shayne Cooper — shining in the shadows

Published: 
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Shayne Cooper goes through stretching drills with West Indies Women’s fast bowler Shakera Selman.

Athletes are undoubtedly the star attraction of every sporting event, but behind every elite athlete is a team of people that mould them into who they become. Shayne Cooper is one of those persons, who works behind the scenes with several of the region’s elite athletes as a Sports Performance Specialist.

At almost every major sporting event we attend, he’s there, though discreet. Cooper has worked with both the men’s and women’s T&T hockey team, while also plying his trade with the Under-19 cricket team. He’s was with the West Indies Women during their series against Sri Lanka which ended on Sunday and the he completed his CPL stint with the Barbados Tridents last month.

The teams and athletes may change, as well as his assignments, but Cooper’s mission remains the same. “I think I see my job as helping sport development in Trinidad and Tobago. I like to see myself as a stepping stone where these athletes could come and get to that higher level,” he told us.

But while Cooper knows all about the muscles, metatarsals, and other complexed parts of the body, this is a journey of learning for him too. He said, “Working alongside a Kieron Pollard or Dwayne Smith, I continue to take advice from these guys, like what works for them, because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the other, so I use that as a big learning curve for me throughout my career.”

With his work at the international level, Cooper now uses his experiences to help upcoming coaches. His advice for them is an eye opener. “Any young coach I work with, I try to get them to understand, know that you don’t know. It’s an ever-learning, ever-growing profession that we are in, as technology changes and new scientific methods come out. You have to mix the traditional with the future of the sport,” he said.

Now at 32 years, in the same way athletes seek to give back, Cooper also wants to give back, by bringing out the ‘athlete’ in all of T&T. “My motto is ‘I am here to train athletes’ but I’m all about finding that inner athlete in everybody. You may not go to the Olympics but you could become a better individual and have a longer life,” he said.

In an industry filled with stars, sometimes those in the shadow, are the reason others can shine.

RYAN BACHOO