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Cancer does not deter Cougar coach

Cook’s brief appearances provides inspiration for players

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Cancer does not deter Cougar coach

Weston Ranch coach Jerry Cook wears a remnant of the first and last VOL football championship team in Weston Ranch history Tuesday at the varsity football practice.

JAGADA CHAMBERS/The Bulletin


POSTED September 26, 2012 12:47 a.m.

WESTON RANCH— Real life has a way of dictating one’s priorities. It also reveals, and sometimes introduces a person to their passions. For one longtime figurehead in the Weston Ranch Cougars football family, real life is helping to inspire the kids.

When players on the Cougars’ varsity squad see coach Jerry Cook at anytime they understand it’s a big deal. For the better part of 2012 the defensive coordinator, and coaching staff member since the Cougars’ inaugural season, has been in a battle with prostate cancer. His commitment to life yanked at his commitment to the Cougars, forcing him into a brief hiatus after summer workouts.

Cook took on the rigorous obstacles that come along with fighting the vile disease, but could never fully relinquish his grip to the Weston Ranch football program. Health challenges forced him completely away from the club at the end of camp, but definitely not for long.

His appearances would be minimal, but their impact was profound.

The kids and coaching staff alike know exactly what Cook means to the program. And in most cases with the varsity members of the Cougars, Cook’s worth could never be confined to the simple world of high school football.

“He is a community guy,” Weston Ranch head coach Mike Hale. “He lives in the community; he has a church here in the community, so he has always been a strong foundation for this group at Weston Ranch. As for me, he has helped me in so many ways. I’ve learned a lot from him; he’s been like an advisor for me.

“Our kids definitely recognize when he’s not there. He’s a spiritual leader too, so not having him around is huge”

Cook is doing his damndest to keep himself on the scene, making his first appearance on Friday nights for a few quarters of Weston Ranch’s overtime victory over Franklin. At the season’s onset Cook surrendered his defensive coordinator duties to Seth Davis. Davis spent time coaching in the Cougars program on the lower levels and with the defensive backs at Manteca High, humbly leaped at the opportunity to call the defense.

Davis was starting safety on Manteca’s 2005 Sac-Joaquin Section championship team. He will coach against his alma mater this Friday at Guss Schmiedt field.

“I just came on to fill in wherever I was needed,” Davis said. “With his sickness and what was going on, I know I’d dealt with it in high school with (Manteca High) coach Jack Miller and him going through his cancer. With Cook being out and me having the relationship with the kids that I had, I just knew it was my role.”

Cook is energized enough to labor through the heat of a 4-hour practice. His trademark intensity hasn’t wavered a bit. He has switched his attention to helping out the offensive line, but still shares all opinions freely. Cook being back on the field likely is medication that no physician could prescribe, but even that pales in comparison to the inspiration he’s providing for this club.

“Just to see what he’s going through and see the strength that he has,” Hale said. “We can look at our situations and some of the problems that we go through and realize that they are small. Especially compared to what he is going through.

“Having him out here definitely give us motivation and inspiration to keep fighting.”

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