“There’s a bunch of good players, and it feels good to play against good talent,” he said of the Brick. “It’s crazy during games. It’s cool.”
A native of Hilliard, Jason played football, baseball and basketball growing up but never hockey. Like many in Central Ohio, he started going to games in the early years of the Blue Jackets franchise and caught the hockey bug.
Still, he never expected to have a son garnering such interest in the hockey world at such a young age.
“We have videos of him in a diaper running around our kitchen swinging a hockey stick and smacking a ball and stuff,” Jason said. “It was a blast. We always used to joke around about it. The love of the game started early.
“We knew when he was young that he was talented but didn’t know to what extent. Coming from Columbus, you just don’t know. Now getting out there and playing with people from all over the country and Canada and seeing him excel at that level, it’s been wild.”
Ohio AAA Blue Jackets executive vice president Nick Petraglia, a former college hockey player at Miami University, is one of those who has helped the Hackett family navigate the hockey world. Now three years into his tenure with the AAA team, Petraglia has been impressed with how the Columbus community has the resources and the values to help young players along, and it helps that the Hacketts have the right perspective on Cooper’s development.
“They’re wonderful people, and the way they’ve handled everything is to be admired,” Petraglia said. “It’s the way it should be, and that honestly is what’s going to set him up to continue to be successful. He obviously has the ability, but he has character, he has humility, and he has this passion and love for the game. Every time he steps on the ice, you know it’s what he loves to do.”
The Hacketts didn’t install that backyard sport court, which features basketball hoops at each end plus a hockey goal set up on the south side, but inherited it when they bought the house. It’s been fortuitous, though, that Cooper has taken to it so well, even if the family’s neighbors just past that hockey net might not be the most excited at times.
“He’s sent a couple of pucks into that pool over there,” Jason said. “But it is what it is.”