Coach of Year credits team, wife
By Amanda Lowrance
The award for Soccer Coach of the Year was given to McNairy Central Bobcats’ Coach Nick Cook on Saturday, May 14, after the 2-1 loss in the district semi-finals against Trinity Christian Academy.
“It turned out to be a very nice and memorable day,” said Coach Cook. “Monica and I took the MCHS award winners to Jackson to watch the final between TCA and Madison.”
“When people congratulate me on the award, all I can say is that I coach a great group of kids, and they make the job fun.”
This year was the Bobcats’ best season ever with a record of 10-4.
“I have mixed feelings about the award,” said Cook. “I feel like it puts the focus on me instead of the team when really, it took everyone working together to put together a good season.”
Last year McNairy Central was 8-7 and the year before 1-13. Needless to say the Bobcats have worked hard and earned respect from the other teams in District 15.
“We had 11 players who scored goals this year, which is unheard of,” he said.
Coach Cook’s system of hard work and conditioning weeded out the players who didn’t care enough about soccer to work hard.
“Developing each player’s mental game was the next step.”
Each player was put to the test on what went wrong or what could have been done differently in certain situations.
“The final and most important step was building team unity and motivation,” Cook said.
This step was accomplished through having each other’s back on and off the field.
“I’m sure if our opponents knew how much their degrading comments drive us to play harder, they’d quit making them.”
The coach has spent a lot of time getting to know each player.
“Each player is different, and it takes time to figure out what each one needs.”
The alumni has a big effect on the team as well. The Bobcats have looked up to them in the past and now have the opportunity to relate and learn during the annual alumni game.
Coach Cook began his soccer days when he was seven years old. It wasn’t until 2001 when MCHS started the boys’ program.
Cook played for McNairy two years, receiving All-district and All-West Tennessee honors and offers to Cumberland and Freed-Hardeman University.
Cook set all the records for defensive stops at MCHS.
“All but two of those were broken by Josh Court this year,” he said. “I still hold the record for defensive stops per game and defensive stops in a game.”
Cook signed with FHU and still has the record for the most yellow cards.
“I was a little different back then,” he said.
In 2006, Cook volunteered as an assistant under former soccer coach Blaine Mehaffey. Two years subsequent to that, he worked with Julie Sweat and in 2009, he went solo.
When asked, “What steps do you feel you took to get where you are now?”
His response was, “First off, I married a very understanding woman who puts up with me being stressed out and away from home a lot.”
The two have a handsome 8-month-old son named Jackson.
“My motivation is the players,” said Cook.
“I think about how differently things could have turned out for people like me. Just the thought that something I do might actually have a positive impact in someone’s life is all the motivation I need.”