A master of his craft, Nebraska’s John Cook talks about his time with the Huskers and what goes into the success of being a national champion, multiple times, in a series by “Why I Create” creator Ben Coleman.
Cook took over the Nebraska program in 2000, taking over after Terry Pettit, who won 694 matches with the Huskers and led the team to 18 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and six national semifinals. Cook was originally at Wisconsin prior to taking the Nebraska job, to which he met them in the finals of the NCAA Tournament that same year.
Setting up the final four that season, Nebraska downed Hawaii while Wisconsin fought through USC in straight sets to set up a Nebraska/Wisconsin finals.
“I’m watching this match and Wisconsin winning, and I’m thinking, holy cow this can’t be happening,” said Cook.
This was a bittersweet moment for Cook, as he had just left the Badger program and was playing against players that he had recruited. Cook won the national title in his first season, but he explained his feeling as having “no joy in it at all”, knowing how his former Wisconsin players were feeling after he left.
Since then, Cook has had the joy in celebrating two more national titles – 2006 and 2015.
Cook doesn’t have all the answers on the court, so he is trying to surround himself with people that could provide some new insight into the game. Of these people are former player and U.S. National Teamer Kayla Banwarth and a young, up-and-coming Tyler Hildebrand who was named the 2017 AVCA Division I-II Men’s National Assistant Coach of the Year at Long Beach State.
So far this year, the Huskers struggled to open up the season, dropping their first two matches to Oregon and Florida without an injury Kelly Hunter. Since then, they lost just one other match to a spicy and upset machine team in Northern Iowa at the Omaha Challenge. To start off Big Ten play, Nebraska completed a feat that hasn’t been done in nearly 15 years – swept Penn State in three on the road -they also downed Rutgers in straight sets that same weekend. In the second week of conference play the Huskers defeated two teams that were ranked higher than them (#8) – Minnesota (#3) in a sweep and Wisconsin (#7) in a comeback five-setter.
The challenges for the Huskers will not end this season as they have a tough Big Ten schedule left and NCAA Tournament run.
Why I Create – John Cook from Ben Coleman on Vimeo.