Cook steps down at Highlands

Posted on 26 May 2011 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Reg Cook said he’d spend more time with his family after stepping down as Athletic Director at Highlands Christian Academy. Photo by Gary Curreri

Reg Cook said he is not “relieved” to be giving up the reigns as athletic director at Highlands Christian Academy.

Cook, who turns 60 on Sept. 29, is completing his 37th year at the school. He told school officials recently that he would give up his duties as athletic director, but would stay on and help Jim Good as an assistant. Good would remain as head basketball coach as well.

“I wouldn’t use the word relief because it sounds like I am getting out of a job I hated, and that’s not the case,” said Cook, who went 518-265 at the school as its boys basketball coach for 28 years. The gym floor was named after Cook in 2005-2006.

“An athletic director (AD) puts in a lot of hours and that goes without saying,” Cook added. “At this time in my life, my new contract is less hours … It gives me some more time at my home with my wife. It is cutting back a little bit. It’s a great job, and Jimmy is a great boss.”

Cook started at Highlands when his father, Bernie, was the AD at the school. Cook began as a PE teacher and a coach. He piloted the JV team three years under his father, who was also the varsity coach and then took over the varsity team until six years ago when he handed that to Good as well. Cook has enjoyed his tenure at the school.

“Oh my gosh, it’s just been great,” said Cook, whose three children went to the school, and he was able to coach two of his brothers also during that time. “It’s been wonderful because I haven’t had to check the clock when it is time to go home. It’s a great job because I work with wonderful people. It was just a family affair, and I am not just talking about my own family, I am talking about the whole Highlands family.”

Cook said he enjoys staying in touch with former players and the fact that he has been able to work with his best friend and former college roommate, Ken Lopez, who is the school’s principal. He said he’s enjoyed “making a difference” in people’s lives. He’s toyed with the idea of stepping aside for the past three or four years.

“It wasn’t a matter of us waiting until he was ready,” Cook said. “Jimmy could have taken over years ago and done a super job. I don’t think it’ll change that much except he will be the one making the final decision. I am sure Jimmy has some new ideas, and I am totally excited about doing things in a different way. We don’t have to do everything the same way we have been doing.”

Good, 35, who lives on the property at the school and overlooks the softball field, is looking forward to the challenge.

“I am excited,” said Good, who has been at the school 14 years. “Those are definitely big shoes to fill. I know the athletic director position is a different set of challenges, but also a different set of rewards as well.”

Good is happy that his mentor of the past 14 years will remain on as an assistant AD, putting in between 30 and 35 hours a week.

“I don’t think words can describe what he has meant to the school,” Good said. “He has been the face of the athletic department since 1974. His priorities, focus and approach to athletics have meant a lot to me.”

Cook’s wife, Melanie, said there was a conversation she recalls her husband having with a new coach at the school. She said it sums up her husband’s influence with the students he coached.

“The younger coach asked my husband, ‘do you want the kids to like you?’” Melanie Cook recalled. “And he said, ‘I want them to like me five years from now.’ So his philosophy was that they would appreciate the discipline later. So many of these boys, especially the boys who grew up without dads, have said, ‘without coach Cook, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Melanie Cook said her husband never looked at his position as a job and never complained about going to work.

“He’s loved it, maybe a little too much,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll be glad to have him a little bit more. We are going to be doing some traveling —  a Mediterranean cruise later this year and a family trip to Africa next year.”

Reg Cook said the journey at Highlands was well worth it.


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