A senior at Dr. Phillips High, Cooper Mills is now in his second year playing on the Panthers’ varsity baseball team. For the first time in his high school career, Mills is starting at first base, and he leads the team in batting average (.480) and hits (12), and is tied in RBI (eight).
When did you first get into baseball?
I’ve been playing since I was 5, and I kind of just played all the sports then — baseball was just my favorite, so I stuck with it.
What has kept you in the game for so long?
I just think it’s cool to be a part of a team — these are my friends.
What has been your favorite thing about playing at Dr. Phillips?
Just the friends I made along the way, and it’s always fun to win.
What is your favorite part about playing at first base?
My favorite part is probably we’re involved a lot, because the ball is always going over there.
What’s the most challenging aspect about baseball?
Something that is challenging about it is you have to think a lot during it. You have to pay attention and know what’s going on to be really good at it.
Is there a highlight moment that stands out to you during your time at DP?
My favorite moment probably is I hit a walk-off a little while ago — against East Ridge one or two weeks ago. There was a runner on second with one out — I think — and it was tied. I was down in the count 0-2 and found my way back, and then I just hit a line drive to left-center.
This is your first year as a starter on the team. What does that mean to you?
Starting means a lot, because I probably won’t play in college, so I’m just trying to make the most of (my situation) while I still can.
What happens after your graduate?
I think I want to go to UCF — major in biochemistry.
Do you have a favorite MLB team or player you like to watch?
My favorite team is the Rays. My favorite player was Evan Longoria, because he was like their best player before he got traded.
What is your routine before a game?
I just take some swings in the cage — we have a small bat that I do one-hand swings with, and it usually gets me feeling good — and then just stretch. I don’t do anything specifically.
When you hit a slump, how do you mentally get past that?
I just try to figure out what I was doing before, because it was working, so if I keep doing it it’s bound to work eventually.
When you get free time, what do you like to do?
I like to watch TV and play Xbox and stuff. I go to the park with my friends, too — I like basketball and the park.