Senior Spotlight: Cooper Badics of Gainesville

Gainesville's Cooper Badics led the 21-6 Hurricanes with 212 points, 142 goals, 70 assists and 55 steals.
Gainesville's Cooper Badics led the 21-6 Hurricanes with 212 points, 142 goals, 70 assists and 55 steals.
Photo by Isaiah Daies

From the gridiron to the pool, Class of 2024 Gainesville High grad Cooper Badics had a memorable senior year.

Although he transferred from GHS to Trinity Catholic (Ocala) last fall to play football for the Celtics, he returned to the purple and white in the spring to play water polo and graduate with his fellow Hurricanes.

“It was definitely a tough decision, but I think it was the right one,” Badics said. “My time at Trinity Catholic was great but GHS has always been home, and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to graduate from the place I spent the previous three years going to.”

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His favorite high school sports moments were at both schools, thanks to the success of both programs.

“My senior season at Trinity Catholic we played in the FHSAA state championship game where I made two field goals, including my career long, a 49-yarder, with 1:10 to go to put us in the lead 27-24 over Cardinal Mooney (Sarasota),” he said.

Although the Cougars (12-2) rallied late to win the Class 1S state title, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 47 seconds to play, Badics was a big part of the Celtics’ state runner-up finish.

He finished the year 8-of-13 on field goals, made 45 of his 47 extra point attempts, and added 23 touchbacks on kickoffs. He also served as the team’s punter and averaged 40.9 yards per punt, including six inside the 20-yard line.

“We were extremely lucky to have Cooper for his senior year,” said Trinity Catholic football coach John Brantley. “Not only was he an accurate kicker but a talented punter as well. Coop made special teams special, and we took advantage of it. According to most, he was our Most Valuable Player.”

Another “very special moment” for Cooper was his sophomore year (2021) when the GHS football team defeated St. Augustine on the road, 17-14, to win the district championship.

Badics drilled a game-winning 29-yard field goal with 20 seconds to play to give the Hurricanes their first district title in football in seven years.

Gainesville's Cooper Badics kicked for the Hurricanes through his junior season.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Cooper Badics kicked for the Hurricanes through his junior season.

He will be attending Edward Waters University (EWU) on a football scholarship and his goal “is to compete there next year and help the team win to the best of my abilities.”

“We are extremely proud of Cooper and all he has accomplished thus far,” said EWU head coach Toriano Morgan. “We know he will come in to compete and help make us a better program on and off the field. Truly excited to coach him.”

As a four-year varsity starter, Badics made 18 field goals, 98 PATs (97%) and kicked 35 touchbacks. His longest punt was 63 yards.

“I am so excited and very fortunate to be given an opportunity like this,” he said. “The current punter at Edward Waters played at Missouri last year and I’m pumped to get the opportunity to learn from him next year. Also, I really appreciate the focus that the staff has on special teams, similar to how Coach Brantley appreciated the kicking position, and I am excited to work with them. I am extremely grateful to Coach Morgan and the rest of the staff for believing in me and sticking with me. I am really looking forward to fall camp and earning my spot.”

One of his favorite moments outside of football was being a part of GHS’ first official district championship in water polo at home this past spring when he scored five goals.

“Going back to play water polo for my senior season was truly special and the transition back to GHS was definitely way better than leaving it was,” Badics said. “Although I was so happy to come back, leaving to spend that semester at Trinity to play football for Coach Brantley was the best experience of my high school career.”

Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville Cooper Badics with a punt during the May 2023 spring game against Newberry.

He followed up his big senior campaign at TC by scoring the most goals in the state (142) for the Hurricanes’ water polo team.

Badics finished his career as the all-time leading scorer for the GHS boys water polo team with 361 career goals, while adding 133 assists, 163 steals and 494 points.

But there was another moment that will always hold a special place in his heart.

“My freshman year, I had the opportunity to play both sports with my brother Mason,” he said. “He was my placeholder for football, and he led our water polo team to a great season in 2021. As I was battling a ruptured eardrum that year and missed half of the water polo season, I was so fortunate to be able to play with him for the second half of the season and for the last time ever.”

Nine years ago, when he lived in Boca Raton, Cooper was a big swimmer, but his brother wanted to play water polo.

“I had little interest in it,” he said. “When we moved to Gainesville, I quit swimming in seventh grade because I wanted to play water polo with my brother when I got to GHS. It quickly became my favorite pastime and six years later I wish I would have started playing when I was younger.”

Badics, who was a USA Water Polo Academic All-American from 2020-2023, received many accolades throughout his athletic career. He was also selected as a kicker for the North team during the 2023 FACA All-Star Classic.

While he shined athletically, he also excelled in the classroom thanks to putting academics first.

“Time management was extremely important to me, dealing with the Cambridge program while attending long practices and workouts were tough things to balance,” Badics said “The key to me was to prioritize my academics because falling behind in school was not an option for me.”

He finished with a 3.9/4.78 (weighted) GPA.

“Cooper has performed at a high level in two sports his entire high school career,” said GHS Athletics Director Phillip Knight. “He has also excelled in the classroom. I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow and develop during his four years at GHS.”

Badics, who enjoys pickleball and golf in his spare time, offers some good advice for those student-athletes who have yet to graduate.

“Appreciate and enjoy it while it lasts,” he said. “I’ve made so many memories and have had so many great experiences over the last four years that I wouldn’t trade anything for it.”

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