When Tanner Cooper got the call that he was going to be drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, it was one of the best moments of his life.
“It was a special day for me,” says Cooper, a Canandaigua native. “You know every kid playing little league dreams of getting drafted and playing professional baseball.”
This off-season, he’s started to answer another calling as he begins his teaching career by substituting at Canandaigua Middle School.
“The reason why I wanted to get into teaching was to impact people’s lives and I think a great way to do that is by teaching,” Cooper says.
In college, he was working to become a teacher before being drafted and has always had a knack for helping others.
“Even in high school, he was very mature, good leadership, always worked well with his teammates and with kids,” says Canandaigua baseball head coach Dale Werth. “We run a lot of youth clinics in the community. It seemed natural for him.”
As a professional baseball player, Cooper has always been a role model on the diamond. But now as a substitute teacher, he gets to make an impact in the halls of the middle school.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to have someone come back and be a role model,” says Canandaigua Schools Director of Communications Caroline Chapman. “Those few days that he’s been able to sub have really made a difference for our kids because they get to see someone who lived it and lived it at their school.”
Chapman taught Cooper in 7th-grade and says that he was just as kind back then as he is now.
The Reds prospect says it means more being able to teach at his old school than somewhere else and comes with some fun perks, like having your younger sister in your class.
“Her and all her friends I know them as the talkative, outgoing people that I see them as when they’re at my house,” he says. “You know I had them in class and they were all great kids and it was a cool experience.”
Cooper will head to Arizona for Reds training camp in early March. Throughout his baseball career, Cooper has been a successful two-way player, pitching and hitting. Cincinnati is having him focus on pitching, and Cooper says it has been nice to be able to focus all of his attention in that part of his game.