New Rutgers wrestling coach Cory Cooperman had every reason to stay at Cornell. He aided the Big Red to a No. 5 finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships. He helped the program produce three Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association and Ivy League team titles, along with 12 All-Americans and two National Champions.
Even with his success at Cornell, Cooperman couldnâ€™t ignore his attraction to Rutgers. Cooperman says RU coaches Scott Goodale and John Leonardis are â€œlike brothers.â€ He believes the foundation Goodale has established puts the Scarlet Knights in the right direction.
â€œWorking with Scott and John has been nothing but a pleasure day in and day out,â€ said Cooperman. â€œI feel like the luckiest man in the world because I can go into work every day and love what I do and who I work with. Those guys, the facilities, administrative support and school spirit made coming to Rutgers an easy decision for me.â€
Along with the Rutgersâ€™ staff and amenities, an old friend also played a role in Cooperman arriving â€œOn the Banks.â€
Cooperman grew up in Springfield, N.J. and began wrestling in third grade after his friend, Michael Puorro, encouraged him to give it a try. Michaelâ€™s father, Ron, coached high school wrestling and Michaelâ€™s older brother Daunte had a successful high school career as a wrestler. Daunte went onto wrestle at Rutgers. The Puorro familyâ€™s positive feedback about Rutgers helped lead Cooperman to join the Scarlet Knights.
Coopermanâ€™s main responsibilities as he enters his first year with the Scarlet Knights will focus on recruiting, lightweight and middleweight training.
Cooperman can relate to what the recruits he visits with are going through, as he went through the same process as a teenager at Blair Academy.
Although Cooperman was interested in a number of sports while at Blair Academy, he chose to focus on wrestling because it was his best chance at earning a scholarship.
The Springfield, N.J. native was a four-time Prep National Champion from 1999-2001. He was ranked as the No. 1 high school wrestler in the nation at 125 pounds and captained Blair Academyâ€™s national championship team in 2001.
Coopermanâ€™s impressive high school campaign drew interest from schools across the country. The highly-touted recruit decided to attend Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa.
He was a standout wrestler at Lehigh, earning All-America honors in 2004, 2005 and 2006 while taking home the 141-pound weight class title at the EIWA Championships in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Cooperman was also crowned the Southern Scuffle champion in 2006 and was an alternate for the 2002 Junior World Team.
Cooperman uses his experiences when talking with recruits and relates it to what Goodale and Leonardis have been through.
â€œOur coaches have the same goals,â€ said Cooperman. â€œScott and John each turned high school programs around during their coaching career. We have a staff that knows how to develop student-athletes and good kids.â€
Cooperman is not only anxiously waiting the season to start, but also to experience the Rutgers atmosphere during the school year.
â€œSchool spirit is everywhere here at Rutgers,â€ said Cooperman. â€œI drive on the highway two hours away from New Brunswick and see that block red R everywhere. New Jersey loves to represent New Jersey. I canâ€™t wait to get to a football game. We have some unbelievable facilities and that will continue to grow.â€
The addition of Cooperman to the Scarlet Knights will help raise the bar for a squad that is coming off a school record-breaking 20-win season in dual competition.
â€œWe want to give New Jersey kids a place to be able to compete and reach their goals at the Division I level,â€ said Cooperman. â€œThere is something special about New Jersey that these kids have a lot of pride in their state. Luckily we are in a state where we have some of the most talented kids in the nation.â€