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Teacher by day, Big Ten Network Commentator by night

Published October 27, 2022

When Buffalo Grove High School social science teacher Jeanne Shin-Cooper is not in the classroom, you may see her in an unlikely place – on national television. For the past four years, she has been a field hockey commentator for the Big Ten Network, helping “teach the game” to viewers.

Shin-Cooper’s passion for field hockey started when she was 10 years old. She played for Lake Forest High School where she was named her team's Most Valuable Player. She went on to play for the University of Michigan, where she collected numerous awards including two Big Ten Championships in 1997 and 2000 and a runner up finish at the NCAA Division 1 Finals for the first time in the program’s history in 1999.

For most field hockey athletes, college is the end of the road, but not for Shin-Cooper. During graduate school at Northwestern University, she was brought on as a second assistant coach for their field hockey program for two seasons. As she started her teaching career at Buffalo Grove High School, she continued to play the game with the Chicago Field Hockey Club, which she still does to this day.

“I thought I was done playing field hockey, but then I stumbled upon the Chicago Field Hockey Club, which I am so grateful for because that gave me an opportunity to keep on playing. I’ve now been a part of the club for almost 20 years,” said Shin-Cooper.

It was a teammate at this club that tapped her about commentating on the Big Ten Network.

“They liked that I was a teacher. In fact, I told the Big Ten Network that I had never done anything like live TV before, and they reassured me that they just wanted me to teach the game to the audience. My experience being an educator helped promote me in that role,” she said.

Another big reason for her to take on this challenge was to show Asian representation in the media and inspire those around her.

“When I was little, I didn’t really see faces that looked like mine on TV. I feel like that is one of my motivating factors. I want other youth, other people to see a face like mine on TV in sports. It can be pretty inspirational. I’ve gotten feedback about that and that’s what keeps me going,” she said.

Shin-Cooper’s students at Buffalo Grove High School are some of her biggest fans, showing them it’s possible to pursue more than one passion.

“I like to call Ms. Shin-Cooper my at-school mom. She is the sponsor of our Asian Student Association. She’s been a great help in finding Asian identity and empowering Asian American Pacific Islander students within the building,” said senior Audrey Ro. “It’s mind boggling how she can juggle these things. She’s been a great inspiration showing me I can do more than one thing and can always explore different career paths and interests.”

“My dad will put on Big Ten Network at home. I like watching her because it’s something so different than seeing her present to us and teach. You can tell she really loves it and I’m glad to see her in her element,” said senior Holden Wheeler. “Being able to see her do many different things, it gives me hope for the future that I can pursue a career in which I’m not limited to just that field. Seeing her able to do that makes me believe I can do that as well and not be stuck in one spot.”

Watch Jeanne Shin-Cooper on Big Ten Network Friday, October 28 at 2 p.m. CST.