He calls it a quest.
Every Friday night in the fall you can find Tim Cooper standing in the exact same spot at The Ted, near the 20-yard line at the North end zone. He stands there to watch his beloved Rams play football. “Coop” as he’s called, also travels to away contests to watch his team conquer opponents on the road. At those he also stands at the 20-yard-line, right at the edge of the Rams’ bench. Near, or far, it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t miss a game.
The 1979 RHS graduate has attended 258 Ram varsity football games consecutively. An impressive streak that started in 1997. When asked why, he has a simple answer.
“I’m passionate about Rockford wrestling, but I love Rockford football.”
According to Coop, it all started at a football game when the Rams faced off against the Big Reds in Muskegon in 2003. He met a fan from the opposition in the stands and they got to talking. He found out the fan had been to every single Big Reds game for 30 years. Coop found out that the man even lived on the other side of the state and drove the distance each week. He was impressed with his loyalty and dedication.
It also got Coop to thinking.
“I went home and started counting,” he shared. “That night in 2003 I figured I was 80 games into my streak. At 100 games it became an obsession.”
Now it’s 2018 and 21 years later, he is at 258 and “counting.” He was quick to point out that the Rams were still active in the playoffs. All of those 21 years the Rams have been steered by legendary coach Ralph Munger.
There was one big event that almost got in the way of his streak: his son Jim’s wedding that was to take place in Bowling Green, Ohio.
“When they selected the date, we knew it was going to be a problem,” Coop said. “They picked a Saturday in the middle of the high school football season. I told them, ‘You should do it in August or November, you know where I’m going to be.’ It wasn’t about the wedding, because it was on that Saturday, but the rehearsal dinner was the issue.”
They worked it out as all families do. As is tradition, Coop paid for the rehearsal dinner, and made plans to attend the Rams game. He also plotted to leave the game early so he could make his way to Bowling Green to join his family.
“I hated to bow out early on the guys,” he said.
The lesson of not wanting to leave early happened in 1998. Coop recounted the game as if it were yesterday. The Rams were on the road facing off against OK Red foe East Kentwood.
“There were only 50 seconds left and Rockford was down by six. The Rams got ball back at 12-yard-line. I thought to myself, ‘Dan Richard is good, but no way.’ By God, they drove the field in those remaining 50 seconds, so I don’t leave early anymore.”
Coop is also devoted with the RHS wrestling team. He sings the National Anthem before each meet, and took over the announcing duties when Don Cadwell handed over the microphone when he retired. Well-known for his talent, when Coop travels to watch the Rams wrestle he is asked to sing at the tournaments. When he travels to Grand Haven it is an expectation.
But, he points out, his love is still Rockford football.
“I really enjoy Fridays in the fall,” Coop said. “I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends through it all. Through the years there’s probably been four different groups of guys who have joined me. Some have passed away, some stop coming, but there always seems to be a rotating group of people who stand near me during the games. It’s a good time, it really is. I call it my social life – Friday Night Lights.”