Nixa’s senior midfielder Cooper Hines was about as vocal and animated as any Springfield Catholic fan on Thursday, while watching the Irish beat Glendale on penalty kicks at the Kickapoo Shootout.
“I’d bet money I was one of the most hyped guys here,” Hines said. “When we were warming up, I was cheering on those guys because I know all of them. We were watching the PKs and I was jumping and screaming every time they had a goal or a save. I was into it. I had kids asking me, ‘Why are you cheering for them?’ I said, ‘Those are my boys and that’s my Dad’s team.’ It was great to watch them win. My Dad hadn’t had a win against Glendale. But they got it done tonight.”
Hines’ father is Mike Hines, in his fifth year as the Irish’s head coach.
Father and son will face off against each other today at 5:30 p.m. at Kickapoo. It will be their third such meeting since Cooper made Nixa’s varsity as a sophomore two years ago. Catholic has won both previous contests.
“They got us on PKs my sophomore year and 3-1 last year, so we have a little bit of.a chip on our shoulders,” Cooper said. “We’re eager for this game. It’s a big one. I’ve had it marked on my calendar for a long time. I’m excited. I wish the best of luck to my Dad, of course. But I’ll keep all of that out and when the whistle blows, I’ll just play.”
Nixa and Catholic will also play against each next week.
When Mike started coaching at Catholic, Cooper was in the eighth grade and had attended school at Nixa since he was in kindergarten. The prospect of playing for his Dad and joining the Irish appealed to him, but so did remaining an Eagle.
“That was a tough one,” Cooper said of his decision to stay at Nixa. “When my Dad started coaching at Catholic, I had a whole year to decide before high school. What it came down to was my friends are at Nixa and I’ve grown up in Nixa. I’ve played ball with these kids for literally my entire life. I wanted to represent my city.
"It would have been really cool to play for my Dad and we talk all the time about what if… But I’m really grateful for time at Nixa.”
Cooper as named a captain for the Eagles this season. It’s an honor he takes seriously and relates any of his leadership qualities are a tribute to his father.
“I count him responsible for the man who has shaped me as a player, leader, captain and a man,” Cooper said. “He’s raised me to have a go get-‘em attitude, someone who is always positive and will try to lift others up, instead of putting them down. He’s also instilled a go out and work attitude in me.
“Having the privilege of being a captain, every time I step on the field I think of the lessons he’s taught me and the person he’s helped me become.”