Cooper came to Nebraska after playing high school soccer for Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, Ky., where she earned first-team all-state honors both on the field and in the classroom.
"The University of Nebraska is a better place because Jenna Cooper made us a part of her life," NU Athletic Director Steve Pederson said. "Some young people come to campus and leave a mark that will never be forgotten. Jenna is one of those people. We thank her parents for sharing their treasure with us. Our hearts go out to Jenna's family, friends, and all those in Nebraska whose life she touched. They say the sign of a life well lived is the outpouring of love from others. Today I have witnessed just how much she was loved."
Cooper was a particular favorite among youth soccer fans throughout Lincoln and Nebraska. She was active in the elementary schools promoting healthy life-styles, was actively involved in youth soccer, worked numerous youth and Big Red soccer camps, and was always the last to leave the field after games, while talking to her young fans and signing autographs. Jenna will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
"Jenna is the strongest girl I know," junior goalkeeper Brooke Bredenberg said. "She is the most loving person I have ever met. Whatever she did, she alway gave her all and never quit."
Christy Harms, a senior defender and teammate, said, "She was amazing, passionate and ethusiastic about life in everything she did. She was the most determined person I know. Jenna was an unbelievable loving and hilarious person. She was my best friend and I am so lucky to have known her."
Cooper was a three-year
starter for the Huskers and one of the top defenders in the Big 12 Conference.
She earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2003, after leading the team with 14
assists and ranking second on the squad with 18 points. She started 69 of 70
career games for Nebraska and helped lead the Huskers to three consecutive NCAA
Tournament appearances, scoring 33 points on four goals and 25 assists.
Her assists rank seventh on the NU career chart, while her seven game-winning
assists rank tied for fifth.
A team co-captain for the Huskers in 2003, Cooper earned first-team All-Big 12 honors this past season, after being named to the Big 12's All-Newcomer team as a true freshman in 2001. She earned a spot on the 2002 Big 12 All-Tournament team after scoring the game-winning goal in Nebraska's championship game victory over Texas A&M. Cooper played with the U.S. Under-20 National Team in 2001 and the U.S. Under-21 National Team in 2002.
She was a
first-team all-state selection in 2000 and a second-team all-state selection in
1999. She was also named to the Kentucky Cup All-Tournament team in 1998,
1999 and 2000.
Jenna is survived by her parents, William and Ellen Cooper, and her older brother Billy. She was born on Sept. 28, 1982 in Louisville, Ky.
Services are pending. The family has asked that memorials in her honor be donated to the University of Nebraska Soccer Program. More information will be sent at a later date.