Can You Tell She's A Fighter?


All fighters do not look alike.

First, there are brawny, oversized sluggers who step into a ring to knock each other's brains out.

Then there are the daring souls who don yellow plastic suits to combat fires.

The majority of fighters, however, look fairly normal. That's where Kim Cooper comes in.

Just by looking at Cooper, one wouldn't be able to tell that the brown haired, brown-eyed Long Islander had to fight her way through Harvard.


Cooper, in fact, spent most of her Harvard tennis career in rehabilitation. She battled back from shoulder and back injuries for her first three years here. And just this year the Eliot senior completed her last--and first--spring season as a contributing member of her team.

"Tennis has always been a very important part of my life," says Cooper, who began playing the game when she was eight-years-old. "It definitely was all the little things like 'the challenge,' 'knowing you can succeed' and 'fighting hard to win,' all those sort of cliches about sports. But that's what kept me interested in tennis,"

From grade school through high school, Cooper balanced everyday life in Roslyn, N.Y., with a tennis career that took her around the country for tournaments. Since school was as big a priority as tennis for Cooper, that balance wasn't always easy to maintain.

"It definitely forced me to become very disciplined," Cooper says.

Cooper chose to attend Harvard, because she saw it as the best way for her to play tennis and fulfill her academic goals. She turned down a number of tennis scholarships, because, she says, she didn't want a coach controlling her college career.

"I've always known I wanted to be a doctor, but I knew that would be hard at a scholarship school," Cooper says.

But her Harvard experience didn't turn out the way it was supposed to.

The August before she matriculated at Harvard Cooper discovered an injury in her shoulder that plagued her through the year. An unsuccessful fall rehabilitation, a December operation and then more rehabilitation kept Cooper off the tennis courts until April.

"You come here and you're not sure if you're going to fit in," Cooper says. "For me a big part of fitting in was my tennis game, and all of the sudden it was taken away from me."

Cooper eventually recovered from the shoulder problem and joined the team at the beginning of the next year. But she didn't stay healthy for long.