AUBURN, Ala. (WDHN) — A Dothan native is recognized as one of the most decorated student-athletes in Auburn and SEC softball history, according to Auburn University.
Kasey Cooper has been selected as Auburn’s Southeastern Conference 2023 Women’s Legend, the SEC announced Wednesday.
“It’s truly an honor and a privilege to represent Auburn,” Cooper said. “To be this far out of my career and still get recognized speaks highly to the impact our teams made on the program.”
The Southeastern Conference 2023 Class of Women’s Legends showcases former student-athletes and coaches from all 14 SEC member institutions. The women’s legends program started in 2001 with classes chosen every year except 2021 and 2022.
Cooper is one of only ten softball student-athletes, and Auburn’s first, to be selected as an SEC Legend in the recognition’s 21 years, according to Auburn University.
“There are so many people who deserve this,” she said. “I think it shows how well-remembered our team is.”
The class will be observed at the 2023 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 1-5 in Greenville, South Carolina. Cooper will be recognized at Auburn’s first tournament during halftime, as well as a group introduction at halftime of the second semifinal game on Saturday.
Cooper has a historic career from 2014 through 2017 that featured a pair of SEC Tournament Championships, back-to-back appearances in the Women’s College World Series and more than 200 program victories for the Tigers, according to Auburn University.
“So many of us really like Auburn and there’s a reason for that. It left an impact on us,” said Cooper, mentioning former teammates including Emily Carosone, an assistant softball coach at Auburn. “We gave everything we had to Auburn. When you leave that mark it’s something special. You leave a piece of your heart there and the community really accepted us.”
A mechanical engineering graduate from Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Kasey will become Dr. Cooper in May when she graduates from UAB’s Heersink School of Medicine.
Just before her SEC Women’s Legend honor was announced on Wednesday, Cooper learned that she had been matched with the Medical College of Wisconsin for her ophthalmology residency, according to Auburn University.
“Coming from a farming background and a rural town background, work ethic was instilled early,” Cooper said. “If you want to be great at something, you work every day at it. If you’re not working at it, someone else out there is.”
Postgraduate scholarships from the NCAA, SEC, UAB, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Turner Scholarship from her hometown of Dothan, helped Cooper attend medical school without debt.
Following graduation, Cooper represented the United States as part of the women’s national softball team for two seasons, helping the team to a silver medal at the 2016 World Cup of Softball and gold at the 2016 Women’s Softball World Championship.
A three-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American, Cooper ended her career as the SEC’s all-time leader in RBI with 270, a mark that stands ninth in NCAA Division I history. Cooper is one of only two players in SEC history to amass 250 hits and 250 RBI in a career. She holds Auburn career records in slugging percentage (.748), RBI, home runs (67), total bases (541), walks (212), games started (256) and games played (257). Cooper also ranks in the top four in program history in career batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits and doubles.
Cooper set nine Auburn single-season program records during her 2016 junior season, including RBI, home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases while tying the then SEC single-season record with 83 RBI. That season, Cooper became the first female softball player to ever be named the SEC Player of the Year and SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the same season. Cooper would add SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors again in 2017.
Earning national recognition, Cooper was named the 2016 ESPNW National Player of the Year and was a finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year award. Cooper was honored as the 2016 NCAA Elite 90 Award winner, highlighting her efforts to reach the pinnacle of athletic and academic success.
Cooper was the 2014 NFCA National Co-Freshman of the Year award and became the first Auburn Tiger to be named All-SEC, All-Region and All-America in her first two collegiate season. She would end her career with three NFCA All-America selections, four NFCA, All-Southeast Region Team selections, four All-SEC Team selections and three All-SEC Defensive Team selections.
With an equally impressive academic resume, Cooper was named a three-time Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American, a three-time NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete and made the SEC Academic Honor Roll all four seasons of her playing career.
“I feel like it’s very important to show people who are successful not only in athletics but also academics and to let people see there are females who are engineers and physicians, and you can do it too. You can succeed in every aspect of life.”Kasey Cooper
COOPER CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
NFCA All-American (2016, 2015, 2014)
NFCA All-Southeast Region Team (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014)
NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete (2014, 2015, 2016)
2017 Senior CLASS All-American
2016 NCAA Elite 90 Winner
2016 ESPNW National Player of the Year
2016 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team
2014 NFCA National Co-Freshman of the Year
Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American (2015, 2016, 2017)
Capital One Academic All-District Team (2015, 2016, 2017)
2016 SEC Player of the Year
SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2016, 2017)
All-SEC Team (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014)
SEC All-Defensive Team (2017, 2016, 2015)
SEC Community Service Team (2017)
SEC All-Tournament Team (2015)
SEC Freshman Team (2014)
SEC Academic Honor Roll (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014)
Two-Time SEC Player of the Week
Two-Time SEC Freshman of the Week
2017 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete
Below is the list of the 2023 SEC Women’s Legends:
- Jackie Traina, Alabama, Softball, 2011-14
- Deena Drossin Kastor, Arkansas, Track & Field, 1992-96
- Kasey Cooper, Auburn, Softball, 2014-17
- Jaterra Bonds, Florida, Basketball, 2010-14
- Allison Schmitt, Georgia, Swimming, 2009-13
- A’dia Mathies, Kentucky, Basketball, 2009-13
- Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU, Track & Field, 2009-13
- Bianca Thomas, Ole Miss, Basketball, 2006-10
- Morgan William, Mississippi State, Basketball, 2014-18
- Tracy Ellis-Ward, Missouri, Basketball, 1984-88
- A’ja Wilson, South Carolina, Basketball, 2015-18
- Sheila Frost, Tennessee, Basketball, 1985-89
- Gary Blair, Texas A&M, Basketball Coach, 2003-22
- Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt, Basketball, 1994-97
Jeff Shearer from Auburn University attributed to this article.