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aben cooper

Lindberg space to be named for Cooper '93

Augustana College will name a training lab in its newest building for Aben Emile Cooper '93, an Academic All-American in basketball.

The functional training lab named in Cooper's honor will be in the new Peter J. Lindberg, M.D., Center for Health and Human Performance, now under construction. It essentially is a strength and conditioning gym where students will have the opportunity to learn how to enhance an athlete's performance as well as improve a sedentary adult's quality of life.

Aben Cooper

Aben Emile Cooper's sketch from the Vikings Hall of Fame.

Cooper graduated with a major in biology and an interest in physical therapy. He was known for his work ethic and focus on academics, and his fellow athletes recall he was always the first in and last to leave the gym.

His senior stats speak for themselves:

• Averaged 17.1 points per game and shot .528 (223-422) from the floor. 
• Led the team in rebounding with an 8.6 average.
• Selected first team all-conference. 
• Helped Vikings win the CCIW championship with a 12-2 league record.
• Led the team in rebounding in 21 of 31 games.

In the 1993 NCAA Division III championships, Cooper’s breakaway dunk in the final stages of the game sealed the 83-81 win and put Augustana in the title game. Augustana fell 71-68 to Ohio Northern in the championship game.

Cooper was the first Black student from Augustana to be named an Academic All-American.

He was named to the Basketball Weekly NCAA Division III All-American team, and it was also that year he was honored as an Academic All American.

"My time spent at Augustana was vital in my professional and personal development," Cooper said. "I met lifelong friends, learned the benefits of perseverance towards goals and found a career path towards a profession that I still love.

"I am very thankful for the mentors that I had at Augustana, namely Dr. Bob Tallitsch, who guided me to my biology degree and on to my career as a physical therapist, as well as my basketball coaches, Steve Yount and Cecil Youngblood, who provided a fun and winning atmosphere allowing young athletes, like myself, to maximize our potential."

After graduating from Augustana, he attended Northwestern University's School of Medicine and earned a master's in physical therapy. He later earned an MBA at the University of Illinois-Chicago. 

Cooper has had an impactful career as a physical therapist and as a case manager. He and his wife Katherine live in Chicago and have two children, Simone and Arlyn.

If you think you're stuck, take a look at where you want to be and what you have to do to get there. You have to cut the lines of people and things that are holding you back. If you think someone is holding you back because of the color of your skin, or whatever reason, that should be one of the biggest motivators to achieve—to show them they're wrong.

Aben Emile Cooper, from "Keeping Your Balance," a publication produced by the GTE Foundation featuring Academic All-Americans

About the Lindberg Center

The Lindberg Center on the corner of 7th Avenue and 35th Street will stand at a prominent entrance to campus, between the academic center and main athletic facilities. The $18 million center is scheduled to open next spring.  

The 52,000-square-foot building will be used to prepare graduates for health-related careers requiring a major in kinesiology or public health. 

It also will house a complementary aquatic center and natatorium, replacing the pool in the adjacent Carver P.E. Center, and bringing with it new teams in men's and women's water polo.

In October, the college announced that it will name the new swimming and diving facility the Anne Greve Lund Natatorium in honor of an alumna who pioneered women’s athletics at Augustana. 

The natatorium will include the competition pool and viewing stands, team rooms and offices, and locker rooms. It also will include a Swim Performance Lab featuring a SwimEx pool system for sports physical therapy, training and swimming stroke analysis.


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