Ali Cook all smiles at the Volley for the Cure game. (Photo by Priyanka Shah)
Ali Cook all smiles at the Volley for the Cure game. (Photo by Priyanka Shah)
Priyanka Shah

Acing her way through managing

Sitting on the side of the court watching her team play, senior Ali Cook was physically relieved to stop playing due to multiple injuries. Though her pain subsided, it didn’t go away completely.

After dealing with many injuries over the past few years, Cook decided to manage the girls’ volleyball team this year instead of playing. Her injuries included four concussions, permanent stress inflammation throughout her shoulder, a subluxation of her knee and joints in her index finger and a dislocated thumb.

“My depth perception was really messed up and my reaction time was really messed up,” Cook said. “So I had to go through physical therapy to heal my shoulder but also help my eyes re-adjust to them.”

Though Cook physically cannot play, she still wanted to be a part of the team. In response to that, she decided to manage. She heard a lot about managing from her other club teammates at Adversity, so she asked her coach at Prospect, Michele Mueller, if she could manage for Prospect’s girls volleyball team.

“She wanted to help out, but she knew physically she wasn’t going to be able to do it with what injuries she had,” Mueller said. 

As a manager, Cook comes to almost every single practice and game. During practices she helps out with drills, while at games she keeps stats on serves. To add to that, she helps during warmups by keeping track of every touch.

Senior Abby Samuelson, a player on the girls’ varsity team, has known Cook for years. She appreciates Cook as a manager and the different types of tips she can give.

“She has that outside perspective of not being on the court [and] being able to see everything [because] her mind isn’t clouded by what’s going on in the game,” Samuelson said.

Even though Cook is not on the court she tries to help out her athletes as much as she can. As manager Cook shares the team’s stats, and especially takes pride in sharing with the athletes how well they are progressing.

“My favorite part is being able to tell the team what they’re doing really … good at and [then I] just watch their faces,” Cook said. “… I can see how proud of themselves they are, and that just makes me really happy.” 

Aside from managing at Prospect, Cook also coaches for a club team. She coaches for the 14-year-old boys at Adversity, located in Vernon Hills. Like previously mentioned, she loves sharing her advice as an athlete to her athletes. 

Since she has the most recent experience with playing volleyball, Cook believes that she has a fresher mindset than her other coaches.  As a result, she loves the perspectives she can give her athletes.

“I love being able to connect with them and share what I’ve learned as a player,” Cook said. 

Because the season is almost over, Cook wants the athletes to have as much fun as they can and just enjoy themselves through the rest of the season. Outside of the court they do fun team bonding activities such as pasta parties before every home game. During their practices they try to do every drill with a positive mindset and an emphasis on fun.

Samuelson loves playing with her friends, but she said that she misses having Cook on the court with her. Even with Cook not playing for the team, Samuelson is happy that she is with them during the season and a part of the team. Though Cook is not on the court, she is still an important asset to the team.

“I [still] feel like I’m very much a part of the team,” Cook said. “They all treat me like I’m just like one of them, [but] I just do things differently. I’ve been with those girls, not all of my high school career, but most of it. So they treat me like anyone else and I feel very included in it.”

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