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Rick Cooper
Beyond the Dream

Rick Cooper (profile pic).jpg

There are those who teach, and there are those who inspire by being. Rick Cooper belongs unmistakably to the latter. His journey, a story of grit, grace, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, mirrors the undulating paths of the very athletes and professionals he coaches. Rick's story isn't just about reaching the pinnacle; it's about honing the resilience needed to climb back up when life, as it so very often does, pushes back. 

 

As a young man, Rick's dreams were as vast as the open rugby fields he sprinted across. From around 13, my entire life was focused on making it as a professional rugby player. Everything was pointed in that direction. Then at 16 I was picked up by Saracens RFC.  At 17 I was invited to train with the Under 21 squad” he tells me. “It was all going to plan. Right up until it wasn’t”. 

 

Rugby wasn't just a sport for him; it was a call – a call to discipline, to camaraderie, to the adrenaline of the chase and tackle. "It was a ground to find the significance and relevance I craved” Rick reminisces, his eyes lighting up at the memory. “It was a platform for what I hoped would become a professional career”. But destiny had other plans. A debilitating injury became a major detour on his life's map, bringing his dreams of a professional career to a cruel & unexpected halt. ‘At 20, I woke up one morning & couldn’t feel my legs. What followed was 18 months in and out of a wheelchair until I could have an operation on my lower spine. I clearly remember the surgeon telling me there was a 67% chance that I wouldn’t walk again after the operation. ‘Well, let’s concentrate on the 33% chance it’s going to work’ I told him. ‘And let’s get this done’”. 

 

It was in this setback that the seeds of resilience lay. After a long post-op recovery, followed by an intense preparation and training period, he took to the London Fire Service with a vigour born from his sportsmanship. Firefighting wasn't just a job; it was a continuation of his journey in teamwork and elite leadership under duress. "The fire service taught me about real heroes, about real battles," Rick reflects, "and, more than anything, about the innate foundations of performance and fulfilment. It was where I became my truest self. It was where I belonged”

 

But the athlete in Rick was restless. Soon after joining, he delved into the world of bodybuilding, sculpting his physique and willpower to stand twice as a finalist in the Mr. Britain competition. It was a prelude to his tryst with boxing and later, powerlifting – a journey that led him to represent Great Britain in the European and World Championships. "Each sport was a different chapter, a different learning," he says. "But the common thread was the unyielding quest to be better, to push limits.”

 

Rick's transition to coaching was less a decision and more a natural progression – a calling that beckoned him. His approach to coaching is imbued with the lessons from his diverse athletic and life experiences. "I don't just coach; I connect," he says. "I see the person behind the athlete, behind the mask, the soul behind the role." Rick's coaching sessions are about unlocking human potential, about inspiring people to see beyond their perceived limits.

 

Working within a Premiership football club isn't just a goal for Rick; it's a vision where he sees his amalgamation of experiences coming full circle. "It's about creating an environment where players not only excel in their game but also grow as individuals," Rick muses. "It's about leading them to find their unique rhythm amid the pressures and expectations of high performance."

 

What sets Rick apart is not just his impressive resume of sports and coaching; it's his innate ability to empathise, to resonate, and to uplift. His journey teaches us about the power of resilience, the importance of mental health, and the undying spirit of leadership. It's a story that goes beyond the fields and into the hearts of those he touches. “Life is a series of plays, moments. Each teaching, each transforming. It’s the actions we take today that will always define our tomorrow”

 

His narrative is a vivid testament to the enduring human spirit, a reminder that we are all capable of rewriting our stories, of rising, of conquering. As he often says, "It's not about the fall; it's about the rise after the fall. Who we choose to BE". And rise, Rick Cooper does, each day, every day, inspiring countless others along the way.

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