Strecker Led the Warriors in More Ways Than One
Cooper Strecker made the most of his senior season as a member of the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team. In his final year with the program, Cooper led the Warriors as a captain and also led the team in total points this spring.
With changes to the coaching staff and new faces taking the field, Cooper found himself in an unfamiliar situation during the 2022 campaign. In the end, Cooper feels proud about what Valley accomplished in a season that featured many unknowns.
Leading a lacrosse team alongside teammates with whom he grew up playing the sport was always Cooper’s dream. Cooper started playing lacrosse in 4th grade after having given baseball a shot. While baseball didn’t stick with Cooper, lacrosse did.
It took some time for Cooper to find his footing on the lacrosse field, but as long as he kept himself active in the spring season, Cooper felt happy.
“I don’t think I was very good at first,” says Cooper. “I think it took me a while to get the hang of it, but eventually, I started to like it.”
The friendships that Cooper created with his teammates proved a huge help as he learned the sport of lacrosse. Many of the people that Cooper played with in elementary school went on to become his teammates with the Warriors. Most notably, Cooper remembers beginning his lacrosse career alongside Reece Whitney, who also served as one of Valley’s senior captains this year.
“I started with Reece Whitney, so I played every year with him, which is really fun,” Cooper says. “It was fun to stick it out and keep playing with the guys that I’m still playing with.”
Cooper has enjoyed his time with the Valley boys’ lacrosse team, specifically how he’s led the Warriors in tandem with Whitney and fellow senior captain Leif Duval. The trio has formed an unbreakable bond that’s stretched over to other members of the program, uniting the group both on and off the field.
“Everyone stepped up and were super welcoming and kind to everyone that hadn’t played before. It was a lot easier to get everyone to jell,” Cooper says. “It’s nice being able to have relationships with everyone and staying close with everyone after. It’s something you can take away and keep not just in lacrosse season.”
Valley finished the 2022 campaign with an overall mark of 7-11, but that record doesn’t paint the entire portrait of the team’s season. Cooper felt that the Warriors did a solid job of handling everything that came their way. In addition to featuring many new players, Valley also introduced a new head coach in Colby Hawkins this year. Cooper felt that he had less pressure on his shoulders when Hawkins came aboard. In turn, Coach Hawkins feels thankful for the leadership that Cooper provided for the Warriors during difficult times.
“As a team captain, he plays with a lot of heart and keeps encouraging his teammates through the ups and downs of the game,” says Hawkins. “We’ve had many close games this season. Cooper has always been a positive note in keeping the team up through challenging games situations.”
Cooper’s positivity and leadership translated to success for the senior. Cooper, a midfielder, scored a team-leading 32 goals and also had 27 assists on his way to a team-best total of 59 points on the season. Cooper always kept his teammates involved by playing a selfless style of lacrosse, while also making sure that everyone stayed upbeat regardless of the outcomes.
“One of the things I tried to do this year was just stay positive and have everyone keep their heads up and not think you’re out of the game no matter the score,” Cooper says.
Aside from the three captains, Valley’s starting lineup was all new this year. Developing those players was the primary focus throughout the season. While he was hoping to help Valley record more victories, Cooper was pleased with how the Warriors pushed through and played hard to the final whistle.
“With the inexperience, we just had to have a lot of people step up, and I think a lot of people really did,” says Cooper. “Despite not having the record we wanted, I was super proud of all of the boys on our team and our coaches, too.”
After having the honor of leading Valley as a senior captain, Cooper will be attending Albertus Magnus College in the fall. While he’s unsure about what subject he wants to study, Cooper is certain that he wants to continue playing lacrosse.
With everything that the sport already has given him, Cooper isn’t ready to walk away anytime soon.
“Obviously, playing is the best feeling,” Cooper says. “Getting to play lacrosse with all of my friends is definitely one of the best parts.”