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By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Coach Hooper does double duty in the weight room and on the field


George Laase

Senior receiver Legend Waring gets ready to make the biggest catch of his Culver City career against Mira Costa in the last few seconds of the game. His catch helped the Centaurs beat the Mustangs in March.

Culver City high school football team has some of the best coaches in Southern California and one of them is their strength and conditioning and wide receiver coach Michael Hooper. Hooper is a former Culver City star football player who was a three starter at defensive back from 2000-2002.

After making the ALL-CIF team as a senior he played college football for San Jose State and after graduating from San Jose he played in the Arena Football League for the Stockton Lighting. Having a well-rounded football background put him in a position to give back to the younger generation of football players.

"My main reason for coaching is to help kids get better and help them get scholarships," said Hooper during a phone interview this week. "I am just doing what God put me here to do." Although the pandemic shorten five game season ended three weeks ago Hooper sounded like it ended yesterday. "It was kind of weird not being able play a full schedule but at the end of the day it's all for the kids."

Hooper played defensive back for Culver City but when he arrived on the San Jose State campus a coach ask him to play receiver, and that's when he fell in love with the position. "Coach Keith Williams instilled a lifestyle in me that took me away from wanting to be on the defensive side of the ball," said Hooper. "He introduced me to being a wide out.

"Coming back to Culver City what coach Williams in stilled in me I wanted to instill in the boys, and I wanted to help them get scholarships. Some of the kids come from single parent homes and some of them have distance relationships with their fathers so sometimes a coach ends up being a filler to show the kids that there is something else out there that they can go for."

Hooper likes to use the term wide outs instead of wide receiver. "Being a wide out, there is always something you can do to get better just like in life."

During the past few years Hooper has coached some of the best wide outs in Southern California. Ken McGuire, Charles Ross, Jamal Glaspie, Chris Miller, Makai Cope and this year Emari Pait and Legend Waring. All of those players received scholarships.

"I try to keep them hungry," said Hooper. "A lot of years at Culver City we have a lot of depth at the wide out position. We have four or five different guys that want to get to the next level, so they want to get on the field. What I do is let them know that they have to follow the rules. They have to catch the ball. Don't get tackled by the first guy, don't go out of bounds and maintain your blocks. I try to make them accountable."

When you watch Hooper on the sidelines you can tell he has a special relationship with his wide outs. "He is the funniest coach I have ever met but he is also the most serious coach I have ever met," said Waring. "He is younger guy, so he knows how to relate to us a little more about what we are going through in our regular high school days."

Waring continued to say, "He knows how to coach us individually. He does not coach all of us the same because he knows all of us do not take it the same way. He has figured out how to coach each player to get them to be the best player they can be. The first day I met coach Hooper I realized he was the most different coach that I have ever had."

Pait was one of the top wide outs in the state this past season, had this to say about Hooper. "He was big. He did a great job. He made me better. He helped me run my pass routes better. He let me know every day that I could be the best."

Throwing the ball the past four years to these great receivers was All-State quarterback, Zevi Eckhaus. "Zevi made it easy for us," said Hooper. "I appreciate the kid. He is a wide out in my mind."

Pait will be playing college football this fall for Fresno State and Waring will be catching passes for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.


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