By Mason Kelley
When Sam walked into the Seattle Team Shop, Deontae Cooper thought he was just another kid looking for some Seattle sports swag.
Cooper, Washington’s senior running back, was working the register. Sam was looking for something specific.
“Hey, do you have Mariners pencils?” Sam asked.
Cooper replied, “Yeah, of course we do.”
The conversation continued.
“I like the Mariners, but I really like football,” Sam said.
Cooper’s boss overhead Sam and said, “You know he plays for the Huskies.”
Sam was skeptical.
“No he doesn’t,” he said.
Then he looked at Cooper.
“Do you play for the Huskies?” he asked.
Cooper introduced himself. Sam didn’t believe him.
“You don’t play for the Huskies,” Sam said.
After purchasing his pencils, Sam left the store. It wouldn’t be the only time Cooper and his new friend would meet.
The next time Cooper walked through the Husky Stadium tunnel, he saw Sam. He wore a bright orange shirt. He had positioned himself just over the “Bow Down” sign at the entrance to the tunnel.
“I couldn’t miss him,” Cooper said.
He was about to run through the plume of smoke that greets the Huskies as they take the field, but he made a note of where Sam was standing.
After the game, Cooper gave Sam his gloves.
“From then on, he always comes into the store and says hi to me,” Cooper said. “It’s good when you have a kid who comes in there and looks up to you. It feels good.”
Despite all of the adversity Cooper has faced during his time at Washington, he remains quick with a smile or a joke. He makes the most of the opportunities in front of him, while taking the time to share his optimistic outlook with those around him.
His penchant for all things positive has helped put himself in a position to contribute this season.
“I’ve been doing some good things out here,” he said. “I’m excited about Hawaii.”