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Cook’s Versatility Makes Her a Premier Student-Athlete

Oct 29, 2015 06:00AM ● By Kenneth Hamwey

Meghan Cook (Bulletin photo by Pauline Hamwey)

written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor

Meghan Cook has some incredible credentials that make her a top-notch student-athlete.The 5-foot-2 senior plays soccer, basketball and softball at Bellingham High and is a captain in all three. She’s been part of a state championship softball team and has also been on three sectional title squads (two in basketball and one in softball).

On the academic side, Cook (right) is a two-time National Honor Society student and ranks No. 4 in her class. She’s been class president all four years and also serves on student council. When she’s not competing or studying, the soft-spoken Cook finds time to work either eight or 16 hours a week.

Able to play any position in soccer except goalie, Cook is a capable second baseman and a durable and dependable point guard. She’s not a superstar, but she’s a valuable team player.
“I don’t excel in one sport over the other, but I try to contribute to help our teams succeed,” Cook said. “I work hard at point guard so I can distribute the ball effectively, and I strive to be a consistent contact hitter in softball. We haven’t had success in soccer, but I never lose my passion for that sport and keep competing hard even in games we lose by big margins.”
Three-sport athletes are a vanishing breed. Many high school competitors opt to specialize in one sport and play it out of season for club teams, like AAU basketball. Cook, however, plays three and plays them with verve and vitality.

“I did play club sports when I was in middle school and spent one year in AAU basketball as a freshman,” Cook said. “But, by playing three sports, you have to get ready quickly to stay sharp in the technical aspects of each one. Since we haven’t been to the playoffs in soccer,  that gives me time to prepare for basketball; but we’ve been to the tournament the last three years in basketball, and that doesn’t leave much time to get ready for softball.”

Cook, nevertheless, enjoys all three, but in spite of her love for basketball, she’s partial to soccer. “I look forward to the fall season,” she said. “I seem to have a natural feel for soccer and I really enjoy practice. It’s a sport where the players are in groups (midfielders, forwards and backs), and they work with each group to score. Basketball is the toughest sport for me because, at point guard, I need to master a lot of technical skills.”

Cook’s statistics aren’t eye-popping in any of the three sports, but her .300 average in softball and her 7 points and 6 assists per game in basketball have helped those sports become ultra- successful. “The two sectional championships in basketball were exciting, but being on a state championship team in softball was an unbelievable feeling,” Cook emphasized. “That’s my top thrill in high school sports.”

Two of Cook’s most memorable games came against Medway in basketball and against Hopkinton in soccer. “We faced huge pressure when we played Medway in our final game last year,” Cook recalled. “If we lost, our season was over and there wouldn’t be any playoffs. We went into that game, worked well together and won. Our 1-1 tie in soccer was pleasing. I scored my first header goal, and the tie ended a six-game losing streak.”

Cook is acutely aware of what attributes it takes to be effective in all three sports and knows where she needs to focus to become a key asset. “Soccer requires endurance, patience on defense and field awareness,” Cook noted. “In basketball, court vision, quickness and shooting skills are areas that lead to success, and in softball one needs overall strength, good instincts in the field and a fearless approach to take command of the ball.”

Cook is quick to listen to her coaches’ instruction and even quicker to execute their demands. “Coach [Mike] Suffoletto has played soccer and knows the sport,” she said. “In spite of our sub-.500 records, he’s respected. I played for Dan Nagle in basketball and now Stacy Bilodeau. Both are awesome motivators and very knowledgeable. Dennis Baker and Kevin Ranieri are great to play for in softball. They know the game and can motivate players.”

Cook will not play varsity sports in college. She plans to become a pharmacist and will enroll at either Mass. College of Pharmacy or Northeastern University. “If I play a sport, it’s probably going to be at the intramural level,” Cook said.

Cook’s philosophy in athletics stresses a desire to improve and a penchant to give 100 percent all day every day. A dynamic student and a terrific team player, she knows that those two qualities lead to winning. She also understands the real-life lessons athletics has taught her. “Sports are a great outlet to learn lessons like being a helpful teammate, setting goals and overcoming adversity,” Cook said. “As a captain, I try to lead by example and by being vocal.”

Bellingham Athletic Director Dennis Baker, who coaches Cook in softball, offered these thoughts on her competitive style and ability: “Meghan is very consistent and well-respected. She’s a captain in three sports and that shows leadership. She’s a mentor to underclassmen and she’s calm in pressure situations. To coach an athlete like her gives me satisfaction.”
Meghan Cook has two more seasons remaining. She’ll no doubt be a major contributor, and she’ll definitely wrap up her high school career as one of Bellingham’s premier student-athletes.
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