Basketball brings family together on, off court

Sunday, July 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:21 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stephen Cook paced up and down the sideline, dry-erase board in hand and shouting advice to his players.

“Get up and guard him!” he yelled as his team dropped back on defense. “ ‘D’ up!”

Stephenie Cook, 19, sat nearby. She did not pace like her father, but was just as vocal.

“Good shot. Now someone follow that up!”

Stephen Cook coaches the Select, an under-14 boys’ basketball team from California, Mo. He led his team in the recreational division of the Show-Me State Games in Hearnes Center this weekend.

Basketball, at least for Stephen Cook, is more than just an activity.

“It’s really turned into a family affair,” Stephen Cook said, whose shirt reads “#1 Coach Cook.” Stephenie Cook’s shirt says “#2 Coach Cook.”

He began coaching basketball when Stephenie Cook started playing at age 10. Together, they won two silver medals at the Show-Me-State games when she was younger.

His daughter is now 19 and a sophomore playing at CMSU, and Stephen Cook coaches his son Dustin, 14, who plays for the Select.

“As she got older, she started playing for other people and we picked up these boys and started doing the same thing we did with the girls,” Stephen Cook said.

One of the other teams she played for was the Mid-Missouri Hustlers. The Hustlers won the AAU National Championship last summer in Florida with the under-18 team.

Stephenie Cook has been helping her dad for three years and said she enjoys working together as a family to play and coach basketball.

“I look forward to it,” Stephenie Cook said. “I give up plans with friends to come down and do this, and that’s something a lot of college kids don’t do.”

The Cooks aren’t the only family involved in the team.

“The whole team is really family-oriented,” Stephenie Cook said. “A lot of parents will help out a lot. You don’t get that with a lot of teams.”

“All of their parents will be here for the games,” added her father. “And if my family wasn’t helping out, I wouldn’t be here.

“When Dustin was younger, he would help out her team. He’d sit on the bench and get water for them. Now, he’s playing and she’s on the bench, so it’s kind of reverse.”

Stephen Cook said it’s nice to win but that isn’t the team’s primary goal.

“We try to keep the team to a fairly local group,” he said, drawing players from California and Tipton, Mo. “But with this group, our goal here isn’t necessarily to be the best team here. We’ve got about three or four kids here who could go play for another team, but we’ve also got about four or five that wouldn’t have another option to play.

“Our goal is to improve both these schools’ (California and Tipton) teams and give these kids that are marginal players the chance to improve themselves and upgrade their skill level in the off-season.”

“A lot of them would actually quit if they didn’t have this chance to play,” his daughter said.

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