CAHOKIA — The dream of one day playing in the Women's National Basketball Association is now one step closer for Cahokia High School senior Teykia Cooper.
One of the top players in the South Seven Conference during the past four years, Cooper took the next step towards a possible career in the WNBA last week when she signed to attend Jefferson (Mo.) Community College on a basketball scholarship.
"It's just another step,'' Cooper said. "I think it's a very realistic goal. If you want something badly enough and are willing to work hard to make it happen, anything is possible. It's my goal and I'm willing to work as hard as I can to achieve it.''
The sturdy 5-foot-11 Cooper averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds last season for the Comanches when she earned first team all South Seven Conference honors.
Cooper said she also considered St. Louis Community College, among others, opting instead to attend Jefferson. Located in Hillsboro, Jefferson is a perennial NJCAA Division I top-25 ranked program.
"When I went down to visit and work out, I just liked the school. I got to meet and talk with the girls on the team and the coach and it just seems like someplace I can be happy going to school and playing basketball,'' Cooper said. "It's away from home, but not too far away.''
Cooper has been a major contributor for the Comanches during the past four years, said coach Fred Dancy.
"Teykia came in as a freshman and started. That doesn't happen very often in this or any program,'' Dancy said. "What made her so good? It was her work ethic. She came to practice every day worked hard and did whatever the coaching staff asked her to do.
"She wants to be great and she's always in the gym shooting or playing ball. Teykia has a very bright future.'
Cooper has the size and strength to play inside or outside at the college level. But the Comanches' top player leaves no doubt where she would like to play at the college level.
"I'm a (No. 3) small forward. I'm a shooter. It's what I like to do and what I feel like I'm best at,'' Cooper said. "I've enjoyed my high school years. It's been fun. But now I'm ready for the next level. I'm looking forward to the challenge.''