Cook nears end of Seton Keough run

February 14, 1991|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Evening Sun Staff

After two more regular-season games, a tournament, and possibly a final game at the March 3 Metro Classic, Trish Cook will retire from coaching.

The Seton Keough coach of 17 years is a bit amazed that others question her sincerity.

"Friends are asking me all the time if I'm just going to take a break and come back in a year," she said. "I won't. Seventeen years is enough.

"Others have been trying to talk me into refereeing. I haven't said no to that. I don't know.

"I want to take a year off and come home from school in daylight. I want to take a year and do things I've always wanted to do, like go skiing. It's difficult to plan skiing trips when you have to work it in around basketball games and holiday tournaments."

Cook recently celebrated her 40th birthday and, although she has had offers to coach at the college level, she said she preferred working with the high-school age athletes.

There have been many pluses, including a marvelous 308-103 career record.

"The 300th victory came in December in an overtime game against Walbrook," she said. "That's a good team, so it made No. 300 extra special."

Then there was a 1978 victory in an unbeaten season that still stands out in her mind.

"We had to go to Towson Catholic when they were winning all those games. We played a near-perfect game and won, 46-45, when Rita McManus iced the win with two free throws. There was just a little time on the clock. When she made both shots, we just let them go down and score as time ran out."

Cook quickly added, "Rita is married and has a little son now."

Another former player, Dede Sneeringer, has a son and volunteers as a room mother at Hillcrest Elementary, the school where Cook teaches third grade.

As for the negatives of coaching, Cook admitted it has always been very difficult for her to make roster cuts and keep players on the bench during games.

"It always has bothered me to tell a kid to sit, that she is not quite good enough to play. The power a coach has can crush a kid, and they are good kids I have been dealing with.

"I haven't won all those games alone. I've been very fortunate to have plenty of good athletes at Seton Keough. They were the ones who went on the court and won the games."

Success in the classroom is Cook's legacy, if you will. In 17 years, she has had only three players fail off her teams.

"One of those, a senior, had problems in the first quarter and couldn't try out for the team," said Cook. "She worked very hard in the second quarter and wanted to come back for the end of the season.

"We talked it over, the players and I, and decided to welcome her back for the last eight games.

"It was a good message for all concerned. Academics is the reason for being in school. No one has the right to play sports. You have to earn the privilege to play. I have problems when exceptions are made to that policy."

The Gators (13-4 overall) are 4-2 in the Catholic League and need victories over St. Mary's (4-3) today and Spalding (3-2) Tuesday to win the championship and clinch a berth in the Metro Classic against the winner of tomorrow's City-Wide championship between Western and Walbrook.

As soon as the season ends, Cook can begin waxing her skis.

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