From early March of last year until now, Te’a’s life has been a whirlwind. She’s experienced many peaks and valleys and has faced them all with unwavering optimism and an incredible work ethic. Her stick-to-itiveness and perseverance have landed her in a spot where one of the cornerstone franchises of the WNBA has welcomed her back to be a part of their championship push.
The Sparks resigned Te’a on January 11th after her strong rookie campaign. After her college season was abruptly interrupted due to COVID, Te’a was drafted to the Phoenix Mercury but again COVID struck as teams had to make cuts without players having the opportunity to prove themselves in training camp. Te’a was a casualty of the circumstances surrounding the league but she was ready when her number was called. She got her chance with the Sparks and it’s been off to the races ever since. Te’a was a spark plug off the bench last season. Her defense spoke volumes and she expressed a desire to make the All Defensive team and one day be named Defensive Player of the Year.
Going to the Sparks was not only a favorable situation on the court for Te’a. In a press conference on Tuesday, she spoke very candidly about her experience and how being surrounded by a group of veterans helped her cope with adjusting to WNBA life and navigating the unique circumstances of the bubble. She talked about how being teammates with Nneka Ogwumike and seeing her operate up close as President of the WNBPA showed her how impactful their voices were as players in regards to things outside of basketball.
As we all saw, social justice was one of the most prevalent messages pushed throughout the duration of the season. The players in the bubble ensured that the conversation never strayed from equality and their colleagues who decided to sit out applied pressure from the outside as well. This was very inspiring to Te’a and she plans on continuing to use her voice to inspire change and take on initiatives that reflect her beliefs in that arena.
Another reason Te’a is excited to be back with the Sparks is her relationship with Coach Derek Fisher. She spoke very highly of Fisher and having him as a coach has benefitted her in many ways. First on the court, they connected because Fisher played point guard like Cooper. They’re like-minded in the way they approach the game and that was essential in her development as practice time was limited in the bubble. Off the court, Te’a described Fisher as very supportive. She said that he genuinely cares about them not only as players but as people. He’s completely vested in them in all aspects of life and not only the things pertaining to basketball.
Te’a is beyond grateful to be back in LA. This is a dream situation for her. While I’m sure she would make the best of any situation she found herself in, playing for a marquee franchise with an extraordinary culture and championship aspirations is ideal for any player. As the Sparks aim to reestablish their dominance in the league, locking up a player like Te’a Cooper is definitely a step in the right direction. We are looking forward to seeing her continue to excel in LA.