Saturday, February 21, 2004

Catching up with ... Cheryl Cook

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Nineteen years after the finest career in Cincinnati women's basketball history, Cheryl Cook still plays three times a week in a recreational league.

"I've still got it, if that's what you're asking," she said.

Basketball has never been far from Cook's mind. In fact, she took a job this week in Phoenix in part because she aspires to coach professionally.

"I wanted to go somewhere where there was a WNBA team," she said. "One of the players I played with overseas, Jennifer Gillom (of the L.A. Sparks), used to play for the Phoenix Mercury and told me about the city, the organization. Maybe I can meet the people ... and be a part of it."

The job Cook took is as operational manager for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's rehabilitation facility. She'll oversee adults in that system in the manner she did for ages 11-25 for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. That was her role the past 4 1/2 years in Cleveland; Cook previously did similar work for six years in her hometown of Indianapolis.

Yet Cook remains fond of talking about her playing days, when she was known as the "Cookie Monster" and twice earned All-America honors.

Cook's career total of 2,367 points is still well ahead of UC's No. 2 all-time scorer - Valerie King, who reached 2,000 last weekend. Cook also finished her career in 1985 as the school's career assist leader - she now ranks fourth - and still ranks sixth on the all-time rebounding list. She remains the only UC woman to have her number retired.

Cook helped the U.S. national teams win gold at the 1983 Pan-American Games and 1983 World Championships, though an ankle injury during tryouts snuffed her chances of making the 1984 Olympic team.

After college, she played four seasons in Spain and two in Italy. Cook said she led the Spanish league in scoring with a 38.9-point average during her tenure and averaged 25.7 points in Italy. But she regrets that the WNBA didn't exist then.

"I guess I was born in the wrong era," Cook said. "But I was blessed to play overseas, make money and see the world."

Special Section

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Lancers' offense cools without Orr
Hard-fought win clinches GMC title for Hamilton
Thomas is named McDonald's All-American
Friday's other games
Football: Tripleheader on schedule for Paul Brown Stadium
Swimming: St. X wins team title; Browning pulls upset
Wrestling: No surprises here - Moeller puts 11 into semis
Prep sports results, schedules

Lewis hints starting QB job will be Palmer's
Dillon's home remains with Cincinnati - for now
Fitzgerald never doubted he could play with the big guys

Mattox wants to earn his place on Reds' 25-man roster
Hudson hopeful he can pitch
Robinson ready to give Expos a few more good years
Cardinals make Pujols member of $100M club

Bracket Buster does mid-majors no favors
Tipoff Page notebook
Catching up with ... Cheryl Cook

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Auburn's Ellis knows UK still team to beat
RedHawks on roll, with flaws and all
Van Breda Kolff claims wrongful dismissal
UC wins without suspended Merrill

Newman wins pole again at 'The Rock'
Earnhardt grows weary of queries about dad

NBA: New Jersey wins now coming by the dozen
Daly's 10-under within striking distance of lead
Siler, Warren win finals at Olympic Team Trials
Sports digest

Talk radio becomes part of nation's male fabric
Sports on TV, radio