Friday, May 11, 2012

The Army in the Gym

For those of you who don't know, May is Military Appreciation Month. As such, we here at Big Dave and Company have decided that we are going to write a post for each of the service branches showing how they do so much more than fight for our country. Since they are all equally important, we are just going to go alphabetically. Today we look at the Army.

     The Oklahoma Explosion are a team of 14 diverse seventh grade boys who play AAU basketball throughout the Midwestern United States.  They are coached by Sgt. First Class Thomas Cook, a noncomissioned officer at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Sgt. Cook donates 25 hours of his time every week to help guide these young men through life and basketball, and to help prepare them to play the game at the high school and college level.
      Sgt. Cook has made the Explosion known for a fast-paced and agressive style of basketball, but the coaching staff strives to teach other things such as confidence and perseverence.  All of that is geared towards getting the kids into college.  "Our vision is to get the kids in school somewhere so the parents don't have to pay for it.  We want them to go to school whether through basketball or not.  School is the number one focus." said Sgt. Cook.
     The coach gets high marks from his players and their parents.  "He's teaching me how to fix my attitude" noted 13-year-old Dashawn Wade when asked about his coach.  Chris Scott's stepson plays for Sgt. Cook. "He's a great coach and a great person because of the way he conducts himself." noted Mr. Scott, pointing to his management of the team during a recent tournament in Dallas.
     The Explosion is not the first coaching gig for Sgt. Cook.  In his pre-Army days, Sgt. Cook coached a little league baseball team in Florida.  Since beginning his Army career he has also volunteered as a football and soccer coach at Ft. Stewart in Georgia.  "With the rapid deployment at Fort Stewart volunteering is kind of though, but you try to help the coaches if you're not coaching a team yourself." noted Sgt. Cook of his days in Georgia.
     Sgt. Cook has a history of helpign shepard young men and women into and towards adulthood.  He is a senior small group leader for the Basic Noncomissioned Officer Course at Ft. Sill, and works at the Ft. Sill Noncomissioned Officer Academy.  Sgt. Cook's supervisor, first Sgt. Stephen Browne notes that he always puts his students first and has been recognized as Instructor of the Cycle four times since 2005.  Sgt. Browne notes that he is especially adept on his knowledge of new systems in both light and heavy artillery and that he is always willing to share his knowledge with others at the Academy.
     Sgt. Cook is a great example of soldiers volunteering their time and skills to help the communities in which they are stationed.  He sums up his philosophy in working with youth in saying "We're trying to keep the kids doing good, positive things and we try to be good role models, while keeping the kids fit."  A noble endeavor indeed.  Thank you to Sgt. Cook for all that you do.

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