Going for Gold - Parkland Resident Hoping To Compete in the Olympics
By Jesse Nadelman / October 1, 2015
Jimmie Cooper was the typical youth athlete growing up in Broward County. He took an active part in Coral Springs little league baseball, and also played travel baseball growing up. However, unlike the typical youth athlete, Jimmie took on another sport at the age of thirteen. It all started when his father took him to a local gun range that was hosting an Army Marksmanship Unit event. "He was so impressed that he decided right then and there that competitive shooting was what he wanted to do," explained Jimmie's mother, Constance.
The young shooter was very motivated for his passion in the sport. As a teenager, Jimmie began participating in air rifle and small bore rifle shooting, both classified as Olympic Sports. "Jimmy had a continuous drive to be the best he could be," Constance said. "Even when he wanted to hang out with friends that drive, they would always bring him back to practice."
In 9th grade, Jimmie began competing in the National Junior Olympics at the famous Olympic training center in Colorado Springs. He also began competing in three-position air rifle in his Army Junior Reserve Officer Train Corps (JROTC) program at his high school, where he set two national records. "[Jimmie] credits his success to hard work, motivation, determination, and a whole lot of support from his parents, coaches, and friends. He also really loved the sport from the beginning," his mother said.
Following high school, Jimmie continued his shooting success. The young man joined the USA Shooting Junior Team in 2010, where he hoped for a shot to compete in the World Shooting Championships. While preparing for the global competition, Jimmie had to qualify by placing in the top three positions in two separate matches, the USA shooting National Olympics, and the USA Shooting National Championships. After qualifying for the team, he trained in Fort Benning, Georgia with the Army Marksmanship Unit. Later that year, Jimmie and his team traveled to Munich, Germany to compete in the 50th World Shooting Championships. "The World Championships were unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was a huge match with more than 177 countries in attendance. In terms of scale and importance, this match was only one tier below the Olympic Games," Jimmie told the Parklander.
In Germany, Jimmie and his team were able to acquire a bronze medal for Team USA. "The whole experience seemed surreal. It was so exciting to come to such a prestigious match and make it to the podium," Jimmie said. "Standing there representing the USA and looking out at the thousands of people in the audience, it became real. I realized all the hard work and dedication had led me and my team to this point."
After competing in 2010, Jimmy attended Columbus State University, where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. During his time in college, Jimmie didn't participate in shooting. "Though my shooting career was very important to me, I ultimately put my rifles away to pursue my educational dreams of a college degree," he explained.
After gaining his college degree, Jimmie met his now long time coach, Mike Simpson, who influenced Jimmie to get back into the shooting sport. Simpson influenced Jimmie to change his style from shotgun shooting to bunker trap shooting. "I would scratch my head and wonder what a rifle shooter was doing at a shotgun range," Simpson said.
Jimmie moved to live on Simpson's camp in Moultrie, Georgia, where he is now a resident athlete at the range. Jimmie trains every day at Simpson's range, as he is hoping to pursue his dreams of achieving a gold medal in the next Olympic Games for Team USA.
Jimmie grew up in Country Acres, a part of Parkland. His mother his mom says is "the best neighborhood in South Florida." Jimmy is also set to get married to his fiancée, Alivia Yeager, this October.
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