For all of Whitehouse High School senior Cooper Clemons’ on-field accolades, coach Marcus Gold has always been most impressed with his dedication to leadership and service.
“He is an example of someone who leads by example in everything he does; whether that be his schoolwork, studying film, or volunteering for community service,” Gold said. “He is the ultimate team player, does everything any coach asks him to do and is a great example for his younger classmates.”
The work that Clemons did to keep himself prepared as an athlete paid off on the football field and basketball court. He earned all-district honors at two different positions for the football team – not to mention academic all-state honors – and started for three years on the basketball team. Clemons understood how things needed to be done, and he set out to do them that way.
“I have never been super loud or outspoken,” Clemons said. “I want to set a good example by doing things the right way all the time. That’s really important.”
But more than being a leader on the field or court, Clemons has understood for a while now that it’s more important to be a leader – and someone who can make a difference off the court.
“I’ve been blessed with how I’ve been raised,” Clemons said. “I haven’t needed a lot of help. But I realize that there are lots of people who need help.”
Clemons didn’t need to look far to see where he could make a difference. An uncle with special needs motivated Clemons to see how he could help. At a week-long camp that serves adults with special needs, Clemons served as a counselor. He worked closely with one camper during the day and another at night, helping them accomplish the nightly tasks that are second nature to most.
“You have to help them do what needs to be done,” Clemons said. “There is a joy and feeling you get from seeing them be happy. They have a lot of struggles, and they don’t get to do a lot of fun activities, but when you are there at camp and you are interacting, you really see the joy that the camp brings to them. That’s pretty cool.”
If personal experience drew Clemons to help those with special needs, a connection to humanity helped him find his other passion. He’s made several trips to areas devastated by natural disaster to help those community members begin the rebuilding process.
“Through our church, we do projects that people need help with,” Clemons said. “A few years ago, we went to Houston to help clean up after one of the hurricanes. We were the first people into someone’s house since it had been evacuated, and we basically ripped out everything that needed to be replaced. I love doing the hands-on work like that.”
While he takes pride in helping others and often feels good about what he and the other volunteers have accomplished, Clemons said he just wants to help others experience some of the positives he’s been fortunate to grow up with.
“I can help, and maybe that will make things a little better or easier for someone else,” Clemons said.
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