Going through our archives from previous seasons, we found a video treasure of an encouraging exchange between legendary basketball player Michael Cooper and our 2019 Girls Division 1A Runner Up, Magnolia Science Academy 8. We were inspired to share this influencial moment to the rest of our community and to serve as a reminder of the countless, impactful experiences and life lessons that school sports provide.
FIYA Features Presents:
A Throwback Story on Never Giving Up
(Click the video above to watch a glimpse of Cooper's post-game pep talk we caught on camera)
On Friday, March 15th 2019, eight Los Angeles middle schools competed for the FIYA Boys/ Girls Divisions 1 & 1A Interscholastic Basketball Championships in front of a full house of high-spirited fans at Frederick Price High School in Los Angeles, CA. In the Girls Division 1A finals, we had a charter school matchup between Magnolia Science Academy 8 of Bell, CA who took on KIPP Academy of Opportunity of South Los Angeles - a rivarly between schools that were both coming from the same, LA South League from regular season play.
This is one of our all-time favorite FIYA moments we've witnessed and had captured from that evening:
After the MSA8 Lady Wolves fell short to KAO in our first championship game of the evening, Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Michael Cooper (1978-1990) was there to give our Runners-Up a post-game pep talk they would never forget after witnessing their tough defeat.
The first half saw both teams battle valiantly for the title, but once KAO collectively found their game, their team chemistry ignited a fire far too strong for the Lady Wolves to put out. But even though KAO's domination on both ends of the floor proved too much for MSA8, the Lady Wolves refused to back down. The pure determination, teamwork, and utter resilience that their squad exemplified made this game one to remember in FIYA. Every last player continued to get up and fight, regardless of the score KAO was putting on the board. In front of a packed house and from first minute to last, Magnolia Science Academy 8 showcased what it means to be a true athlete and how to represent your school with pride on the court both in winning and in losing.
After both teams were presented with their FIYA memorabilia, Michael Cooper, having witnessed the girls matchup while waiting for the following game, approached the Lady Wolves to applaud them for their performance. We only captured a short snippet of his post-game speech to the team, but the encouraging words from the 5x NBA champion and his 26 years of coaching will last a lifetime. It just goes to show that a simple act of kindness and giving back to the game you love can leave a long-lasting impression on the ones who will carry it forward.
The Lady Wolves might have taken the loss that game, but to Michael Cooper and to all others in attendance that day, the team’s persistence displayed on the court and the way they never backed down to the KAO powerhouse was truly admirable to any athlete - on any scale. Because as athletes, coaches, and fans of the sports we love, we know there’s always going to be good games and challenging games, wins and losses, but the most important thing is to always give your best, never give up, and to keep your head held high no matter the outcome.
That’s truly what we, at FIYA, believe sports are all about and that’s what our Lady Wolves and (now) Coach Michael Cooper reminded us in this moment of a life lesson. While their trophy may state 2nd place, on that day, this team walked away as champions in more ways than one.
Thank you Coach Cooper for your support and way to go Lady Wolves!
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