June 16, 2021
When Jason Cooper arrived on the Wayland Baptist University campus in 1997 to play basketball for the Pioneers, he had no clue about the rich history and tradition of the Flying Queens women’s basketball program.
“I thought it was a pretty strange name and very unusual that the men’s and women’s teams had different mascots, but other than that I had no idea,” he said.
Cooper was formally introduced as Flying Queens coach at a press conference on Thursday, June 17, inside Hutcherson Center.
Fast forward almost 2½ decades and not only does Cooper know all about the Flying Queens, he’s their new head coach.
On Wednesday, Cooper was named the 14th head coach of the winningest basketball program in collegiate history, and he’s beyond excited at the chance to guide such a storied program that has enjoyed a national resurgence over the past several years.
“It’s a dream come true for me. This is the job I’ve always aspired to,” Cooper said. “To have this opportunity and be entrusted to the program and legacy that is the Flying Queens is special and something I will take very seriously.
“I take the history of the program as something that’s very special and has to be taken care of.”
WBU Senior Vice President of Operations and Student Life Dr. Claude Lusk said he is extremely excited that Cooper, a former Flying Queens assistant coach in the early 2000s, will be the new Flying Queens head coach.
“Jason has been educated at Wayland, he played basketball at Wayland, he has coached at Wayland and he has sent his daughter to Wayland to be a part of the Flying Queens. Jason knows and loves Wayland and Flying Queens basketball. I believe that Coach Cooper is the right individual to not only continue but enhance the Flying Queens basketball tradition.
“He will care about our student-athletes in a holistic way. The academics, athletics and development as individuals in a faith-based context will all be important to Coach Cooper.
“I believe the future of Wayland Baptist University Flying Queens basketball is bright.”
Cooper takes over for Alesha Ellis, who recently became the women’s basketball head coach at NCAA Division II Angelo State University. Her husband Andy, who was Flying Queens assistant coach and head women’s golf coach at WBU, joined Alesha at Angelo St.
In her eight years at the helm, Ellis turned the Flying Queens program around, compiling a 189-52 record for a 78.4 winning percentage. Her teams never failed to qualify for the NAIA National Championships, and the last four seasons were in the conversation to win a national title. The Flying Queens were ranked No. 2 much of last season and finished the COVID-abbreviated campaign with a 13-1 record.
Cooper wants to not only continue that tremendous success, but build upon it.
“The Queens were very close to a national championship the last two seasons. I’m ready to get in here and get started and continue with what Alesha has done and take that next step to the national championship,” Cooper said.
A native of Crandall located east of Dallas, Cooper already has had a hand in the Flying Queens’ rich history.
Following his two-year playing career with the Pioneers from 1997-99 that saw him earn All-Sooner Athletic Conference and NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors as a 6-foot-6 post and take home the prestigious Roscoe Snyder Award as Wayland’s most outstanding male athlete, Cooper served as graduate assistant coach for the Flying Queens and later assistant coach alongside his sister-in-law, Johnna Pointer. (Jason is married to WBU graduate Amanda Pointer, an early childhood instructor. They have two children: current Flying Queen Jenna and seventh grader Johnathan, who turned 13 years old today.)
Jason, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at WBU, joined Johnna on the bench for the final two of her seven seasons as head coach, guiding the Flying Queens to the NAIA Elite Eight in their final campaign together in 2003.
Cooper went on to serve as head basketball coach at area high schools in Cotton Center (boys), Olton, Sudan, Amarillo (Tascosa) and Claude, winning more than 75 percent of his games and compiling an impressive record of 413-133. His teams never failed to make the state playoffs, amassing eight district titles, eight regional tournament appearances, three regional titles, three state tournament appearances and a state championship at Sudan in 2009 when he was named Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year.
Cooper also has been an active coach in club and AAU basketball, claiming four national crowns and four more national runner-up titles.
Since 2004, Cooper has served as coach, instructor and director in Pointer’s Hoop 10 Basketball in Amarillo. He and wife Amanda also own and operate Coop’s Training & Apparel in Amarillo.
Now, Cooper is head coach of the Flying Queens, and he couldn’t be more excited.
“Over the past 25 years as a Wayland student-athlete, coach and now a parent, I have used the lessons learned from this program as the building blocks for a successful coaching career,” Cooper said. “Everywhere I go I see the countless connections and the influence of the Flying Queens program.
“The Christian mission and athletic excellence that the program stands for are special and rare in today’s world. I want to build upon the program’s past success, increase the program’s footprint in West Texas, and push the program to new heights. I want every little girl baller in West Texas to want to be a Flying Queen.”
Cooper’s daughter Jenna, who will be a junior on next season’s Flying Queens team, was the Sooner Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year, NAIA Honorable Mention All-American and an NAIA Scholar-Athlete in 2019-20, and this past season she was named All-SAC First Team.
Having coached his daughter in high school, Cooper is looking forward to having Jenna and the majority of last year’s Flying Queens roster return next season.
“I have had a part in the basketball journeys of several of our current players through various camps, tournaments and activities, and through my involvement in club basketball I have personally coached six of the current players,” said Cooper, who is no relation to former WBU Director of Athletics Rick Cooper.
Jason can hardly wait to get started.
“This program has been part of my life for the past 25 years, and I love it.”
The Flying Queens are the winningest collegiate basketball program (men or women) in the country. They will enter next season five victories short of 1,700 (1,695-571).