Jennie Finch Empowerment Award goes to catcher Jada Cooper

July 13th, 2023

Jada Cooper, a participant in this year’s Jennie Finch Classic during All-Star Week in Seattle, was recently selected as the second of four recipients to earn this year’s esteemed Jennie Finch Empowerment Award.

This award, which comes with a $10,000 scholarship check and a trip to the 2023 World Series, is given to a teenage softball player who is not only a great athlete, but also a scholar and a humanitarian. Out of the six characteristics of the Arm & Hammer JFEA -- humility, commitment, motivation, leadership, dedication and integrity -- humility and motivation are the most evident in Cooper.

She talked about where those come from and her mom’s reaction after she told her she won the award.

“It’s so hype to be around [these players], because, like this family and this environment, it makes me so much better as a player,” Cooper said. “My motivation -- my mom every day … I know she is probably crying right now. She is so excited. She can’t wait to see me when I get back home.”

A three-sport varsity athlete (softball, basketball and volleyball), Cooper can play anything and everything at a high level. She is a 17-year-old catcher and utility infielder for the Westside Wolves High School team in Houston. In addition, she is also a part of the Houston Astros Youth Academy. She has been a critical piece for her local youth academy, as she helped lead Houston to the RBI World Series championship game last year.

At the Houston Youth Academy, Cooper was praised for being a humble individual, even amid all of her athletic success, for always being a great teammate by motivating those who she plays with to always be the best that they can, and ultimately being the life of the party.

Even though Cooper was competing against other athletes when she won this special award, she still received a huge ovation from the opposing teams, the biggest celebration that Finch had seen.

Alyssa Arnall, Cooper’s Astros Youth Academy teammate, shared the impact that Cooper has on their team.

“She brings us all up, no matter how we are doing in the game,” Arnall said. “If we are down or if you just had a bad play, she’ll always tell you, ‘Pick your head up.’”

Laila Robins, another one of Cooper’s teammates, echoed those praises.

“She's so in tune with the team and very welcoming,” Robins said. “You definitely need leaders like that to be able to push you further in the game.”

Cooper is making an impact on the field, but an even bigger one off of it. Not only does she help coach younger athletes at the Astros Youth Academy, but over the past few summers, Cooper has also worked at a camp called RaiseUp Families. Cooper, who was once a beneficiary of the financial assistance program from this organization that helps to support young kids that come from single-parent households, also helped run a food drive for those in need.

“It feels really good to give back, because I was once in their shoes, and it's like, ‘I’m real grateful to be here,'” Cooper said.

Not only do her fellow teammates have glowing remarks about her, but Megan Hays, an Astros Youth Academy coordinator, shared her appreciation as well for the softball athlete.

“Jada is humble in the fact that no matter how she does on that field, she still goes in that dugout and tries to pick her other teammates up,” she said. “She motivates the other girls to be just as good as she is and still has that attitude of, ‘I’m still a teammate. We still have to cheer for each other.'

“Just the balance of academics and softball is so huge. … For her to actually put that community service in there as well is very huge, but that’s just who she is. She loves giving back.”

The next step for Cooper is senior year, as she has aspirations of going to college to play softball and major in a business-related field. That’s why the $10,000 scholarship is so impactful.

“It will help a lot, because I come from a family that really doesn’t have as much as other families do,” Cooper said. “Like I really appreciate the money -- it’s going to help me narrow down some options.”

“MORE POWER TO YOU” -- the Jennie Finch Empowerment Award motto -- is very apparent in Cooper’s life. She is now a part of a prestigious group working on making an lasting impact not only on the softball field, but in the community as well.