Kyle Cooper heads into his second year at the helm of West Liberty University’s women’s basketball program looking to build on the momentum from the Lady Hilltoppers’ second-semester surge.
Early-season injuries and a challenging non-conference schedule left the West Liberty women with just four wins in their first 13 games a year ago but Cooper’s patience was rewarded as the Lady Hilltoppers caught fire in conference play.
West Liberty won eight of its next 10 games to thrust itself into the thick of the conference chase and when the dust had settled, Cooper’s first team had earned the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the Mountain East Conference Tournament.
The Hilltoppers ranked among the Top 20 nationally as a team in scoring, assists and 3-point field goals while junior All-American Marissa Brown was the only NCAA Division II woman in the nation to rank among the Top 10 nationally in scoring (4th, 24.0 ppg.) and rebounding (9th, 11.2 rpg.).
In addition, Audrey Tingle led all NCAA Division II freshmen in assists and ranked No. 5 nationally at 6.5 apg. before missing the last few games due to injury.
Cooper is no stranger to success. He had spent four years as the lead assistant for the WLU women, filling the role of associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for legendary head coach Lynn Ullom. Cooper took the reins when Ullom stepped down to accept the role of full-time athletic director. West Liberty went 82-45 (.646) during Cooper’s four years as an assistant with three 20-win seasons.
Back-to-back Mountain East Conference championships in 2015 and 2016 highlighted that run. The 2016 squad set a school record by going 29-5 and spent the entire season ranked in the USA Today coaches’ Top 25. That Lady Hilltopper team finished the season ranked No. 18 nationally after a “Sweet 16” run that included a regional semifinal win against defending national champion California (Pa.).
Cooper caught the coaching bug during his days as a student at West Virginia University. He served as assistant head manager and basketball camp counselor for Coach John Beilein’s Elite 8 and Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament men’s basketball teams during Cooper’s first two years at WVU (2005-06).
The Waterford, Pa. native spent the next four seasons (2007-10) as head student manager and graduate assistant for Coach Mike Carey with the Mountaineers’ women’s basketball program. The WVU women advanced to post-season play all four years, earning three trips to the NCAA Tournament and a WNIT berth.
Cooper left Morgantown in 2010 to serve as Director of Women’s Basketball Operations for head coach Semeka Randall at Ohio University. He spent one season with the Lady Bobcats before accepting an assistant coaching position at Wheeling Jesuit and came to West Liberty after two years at WJU.
An outstanding student, Cooper graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia in 2008 with dual bachelor’s degrees in Sport Management and Athletic Coaching Education along with a minor in Business Administration.
He earned a master’s degree from WVU in Educational Leadership with a focus on Higher Education in 2010.
Kyle and his wife, Katie, are a West Liberty family as Katie is the university's Director of Financial Aid. They live in Follansbee, W.Va. with their son, Brody.