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Meridian Junior Cole Kaufman radiates positivity. From his sheepish grin to his consistent focus on what he describes as the “sunny side of life,” his optimistic nature is contagious. In many ways, Cole is a typical teenage boy. He balances school and sports, family and friends. But his goals are anything but ordinary. His brothers are passionate about cars and help at the family business, Brad’s Collision Works in Anna. But Cole aspires to play professional basketball.

The Cole Kaufman Way:
Keep Working
and Stay Positive

Cole is 6'2", runs cross-country, and plays guard for the Meridian Bobcats. When talking about his love for the game, he doesn’t focus on wins, losses, or points scored but on hard work and continuous improvement. He sets goals, displays a positive attitude, and grows through a consistent focus on growth.

“I’m good at schoolwork, naturally,” says Cole. “But basketball is something that I must keep working on. And working at it gives me a good feeling because I see myself improving and want to keep improving.”


Cole doesn’t present himself as someone who needs to be the star of the game. While I’ve never seen him play, I envision the type of teammate who improves everyone around him. I see someone who leads by example by going the extra mile. I imagine the kind of player who would forgo the game-winning shot if he spotted an open teammate closer to the hoop. Not because he doubted his ability but because he prioritized the team over himself.


“I always try to help the next person succeed and get to where they want to be. I always stay positive. I want to help as many people as possible, “Cole shares.


Cole seems genuinely excited by putting in the work on the basketball court and in the classroom. While he admits that school has often been easy for him, he says, “There are situations where I put in the time, I get it, and I go on from there.” His favorite subject is pre-calculus, which Miss Harris teaches. He’s also enrolled in two dual credit classes through Shawnee Community College’s Fast Start Program.


Currently uncommitted regarding which college to attend, he wants to continue playing basketball at the collegiate level. While he isn’t positive, he sees himself potentially majoring in accounting.


Cole doesn’t hesitate when discussing to whom he looks for inspiration, quickly sharing that he gets his positive attitude from his mother. He describes her as “always positive and looks on the brighter side of things.” He adds, “she always wants me to do my best at whatever I do, whether it’s school or basketball.”


On the basketball court, he looks up to Meridian’s head basketball coach, David Davis. But ultimately, being part of a team of individuals focused on a common goal drives him.


When asked what advice he would provide to his younger self, he rattles off a series of wise statements that could benefit anyone, regardless of age or circumstance. “Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t ever get discouraged. It doesn’t matter what people think of you. Only what you think of yourself. Just stay positive and stay working,” says Cole. ‘Just stay positive and stay working’ seems a fitting summary of Cole’s mindset.

Don’t ever get discouraged.
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