Earle "Pete" Cooper's thirty-one year coaching career was successful and impressive. It all began when he was a quarterback at Morse High School, where he was a 3-year letter winner in football and basketball. He was captain of the football team in 1958, and captain of the baseball team in 1959. From there he went on to play halfback at the University of Maine.
Under Hal Westerman, who was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, Cooper once played an entire game after suffering a broken nose on the opening kickoff. As a coach, Cooper's career spans more than three decades, beginning in 1964 after graduating from UMO at age 25 (not much older than the students he points out). Cooper was positioned at Madison High School as head and assistant football coach, as well as head and assistant coach of basketball and baseball. While at Madison, the football team had a record of 18-16-2.
For the next 27 years, beginning in 1969 until his retirement in 1996, Pete Cooper's name was synonymous with winning football. He was considered the winningest active coach in Maine high school football with a 205-95-6 record during his time at Lawrence and Madison. Cooper coached with modesty, class, and concern for his players.
He brought his teams state championships in 1973, 1983, and 1984, and state runner-up trophies in 1980, '85, '86, '88, '90, '92, and '96. His Lawrence team was also Eastern Maine Class A champs in 1988, '90, '92, and '96.
Pete was also assistant football coach at Bonny Eagle High School from 1999 to 2009, under his son Kevin, a Dartmouth graduate who was the recipient of a scholar-athlete award presented by the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. Pete's coaching record as head coach of football was 217-96-4.
He received the Maine Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award in 1983, '84, '92, and '96; the Pine Tree Conference Coach of the Year Award in 1983, '84, '88, '90, '92, and '96; and the Waterville Morning Sentinel's Central Maine Coach of the Year Award in 1985 and 1988.
It wasn't easy. Lawrence, last in the Conference with a record of 1-8 in 1991, improved to 10-2 the following year and rallied from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half to stun Cony 19-18 in the league's title game. The Bulldogs lost to South Portland 6-0 in the state Class A championship game. "I was dumbfounded," said Cooper. "I was humbled, surprised, and elated. When you get recognized by your peers, that's terrific. It's really a good feeling."
The Kora Temple Shrine awarded him Head Coach Emeritus for head coaching in the Lobster Bowl in 1990, '92, and '97. He was awarded the Amateur Football Award by the Maine Chapter of the National Football Foundation in 2001.
Pete Cooper is truly an old-school, by-the-book football-coaching icon, an icon in the history of Lawrence High School sports, and a legend in his own time. The coach whose success came from his passion for the game of football, a passion he projected to all of his players.
Coach Cooper and his wife Lois reside in Fairfield. They are the parents of two children, Kevin and Kimberly.
Maine Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 2
Cumberland, ME 04021
Phone (207) 807-7666
The Maine Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1972 for the purpose of: 1) appointing and bestowing recognition awards and scholarships to outstanding Maine high school scholar-athletes; and, 2) to formally honor and memorialize Maine athletes and sports figures who have brought distinction and honor to the state of Maine.