A+ Athlete: Cooper Hamilton, Calera

This week's A+ Athlete is Cooper Hamilton from Calera High School.

Now, the last name may seem familiar because his twin brother, Chase, was a former A+ Athlete. But Cooper has commanded games from behind the plate for the Bulldogs for the past four years. He's also the team's lead-off hitter.

If you ask Cooper about having all of those responsibilities, he'll tell you they've taught him a lot.

"You have a link with coach there calling pitchers, calling plays that most people don't have," said Hamilton. "Then that leadership part of it and setting an example for your underclassman that whenever you're out there, or you're in the classroom or wherever you are, you need to give 100 percent all the time."

"No offense to any of the other catchers we've ever had, he's the smartest catcher we've ever had," said head baseball coach Rickey Teafatiller. "So to put him on the field, and allow him to put people in position and move people around, it actually helps me as a coach."

In the classroom, Cooper maintains a 4.0 GPA. He's the class president and an FFA officer. Cooper scored a 30 on his ACT and will enter college with 16 credit hours.

"Academics are the basis of what kind of a person you are in life," said Hamilton. "What kind of motivation you have to succeed at the next level, not just in sports, but your goals in life and the career you want to reach."

"With Cooper, his legacy that he's left behind has certainly been one of those guys that reaches out to other kids," said social studies teacher Greg Thralls. "He's a protector of kids I feel like in a lot of different ways. He pushes them, also."

If Cooper doesn't play collegiate baseball after graduation, he plans to attend Oklahoma State University and major in biology or chemistry. And that's why Cooper Hamilton is this week's A+ Athlete.