Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Southside Boys Basketball Coach Charlie Cooper Retires

Cooper led Mavericks for the past 14 seasons
Charlie Cooper

FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Just days after Southside introduced a new girls basketball coach, they have to go to work to find a boys leader as long time coach Charlie Cooper retired on Thursday.

Cooper led the Mavericks for the past 14 seasons but has made the decision to step away from the game and enter other business ventures. Southside hired Robert Brunk to lead the girls’ program on Tuesday.

“He was the life blood of Southside basketball,” Fort Smith schools athletic director Dr. Darren McKinney said. “He was there everyday and giving it his all. No matter if he had a good team, a bad team, a team that was struggling, you knew what you were going to get out of him. He would bring his lunch pale to work and get after it.”

Southside went 6-21 in the 2018-19 season and finished eighth in the 6A-Central, the conference that produced both teams in the state finals including cross-town rival Northside.

“It was a little by surprise,” Dr. McKinney said. “There was an opportunity for him to do something different. We visited about it and I said ‘you’ve got to do what’s best for yourself. I hate to lose you but do what’s best for you.'”

Dr. McKinney said the search will start early next week and they look to have a new head coach before school is out for the summer.

“They are already into offseason, applying for team camps and summer workouts,” Dr. McKinney said. “We want that continuity for the coaches. With somebody new, you at least want to get to know the team before the summer and that’s when they install their plan with all the X’s and O’s.”