Damonte Ranch’s Cooper Anderson as resilient as they come

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 11:51 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Injuries are a part of sports.

Stanford Children’s Hospital puts the number at more than 3.5 million cases each year.

Damonte Ranch’s Cooper Anderson is one of those 3.5 million cases annually.

He’s also a statistic for something much worse and not as common. But he’s still found a way to be one of the school’s biggest contributors.

Let’s begin March 30, 2022. Anderson is at one of his varsity baseball practices. The outfielder and pitcher is a key piece to head coach Jon Polson’s Mustangs. But this story isn’t about getting ready for Galena the following day. Cooper just being on the field is impressive enough.

“Cooper is one of the most resilient and positively excited kids I’ve ever met,” said his mother, Brandi Anderson.

Cooper added “(I) didn’t have much of a childhood in terms of going out. It was more learning and staying healthy.”

Flash back to kindergarten, Cooper loved spending time with his friends – especially playing outside.

But he was always tired. His parents noticed frequent bruising.

“One day he was on his way to ride a dirt bike with his buddy and we had to turn around because we got the call and the next moment he was in the hospital, said Brandi.

Doctor’s diagnosed Cooper with leukemia at just six years old.

“When we finally figured out what was happening it felt like the world had completely gone silent,” Brandi said.

There were so many treatments the family admittedly lost count.

“The more I didn’t know at the beginning it was more helpful, Cooper thinks back. “I remember thinking something was wrong. I didn’t know what.”

Cooper’s family insulated him from the scary realities of what was happening. The battle with cancer lasted three years.

He realized - watching the news at eight years old, that he could die.

But Cooper was officially ruled cancer free when he was 13.

“The relief was great,” Cooper said of being cancer free. “It was nice to be able to go to school and not have to worry about when my next doctor’s appointment was.”

Brandi adds “there is no community like Reno-Sparks...rally around people like they did around us.”

The Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, Reno Fire Department, and countless people provided the Andersons with emotional and financial support during Cooper’s battle.

The family made it through.

When Cooper was healthy enough he started playing baseball and youth football.

The latter really piqued his interest.

As a freshman at Damonte Ranch he joined the football team. The Mustangs needed a quarterback after the departure of now University of Michigan starter Cade McNamara.

Cooper tried to be the starter but it was not meant to be at first.

“You’re not supposed to tackle the quarterback but something happened and I fell,” Cooper said of an incident at practice where a teammate took him down on a designed run. “My leg got caught underneath me. It’s called your tibia plateau. It’s underneath your kneecap. It folded up and my kneecap was in my thigh muscle.”

Family friend, Jason Rogers, remembered seeing Cooper after the surgery.

“He had pins and bolts and screws in it. He never once complained.”

Doctors told Cooper he’d be back on the field - baseball or football - in nine months.

He recovered in six.

“I think he was just so sick of being sidelined and it was always happening to him, if you will,” said Brandi.

The injury – coupled with COVID – put Cooper behind the eight ball to start his high school journey.

He didn’t play baseball as a sophomore.

“I hounded him for six months,” Rogers said. “I’d txt him and call him. You’re going to play. You’re not done.”

The love of the game kept Cooper going.

“Even with all the bad things that have happened to me it makes me realize all the things I can do down the road,” Cooper said of the motivation behind getting over his setbacks.

In the fall Cooper earned the starting quarterback job for Damonte Ranch. He led the Mustangs to the regional playoffs.

This spring, he’s second on the baseball team in games played.

“He takes challenges on and he beats them,” said Rogers.

Cooper has tattoos on his right forearm to remind him of how far he’s come, and what he’s capable of.

“The compass (on his arm) symbolizes always being able to find your way in life no matter what.”

Cooper and the Damonte Ranch baseball team are hoping to find their way to a state championship this season.

The regular season ends in early May.

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