The Salmon River boys soccer team has been on the rise and the father/son combination of Tim Cook and Tim Cook Jr. have played a key role in the program’s growth.
Tim Cook took over as coach of the varsity team prior to the 2017 season. The Shamrocks had gone 4-13-1 the previous year and improved to 7-8-2 in his first year. Last year Salmon River went 8-8-2 and upset Ogdensburg Free Academy 3-0 in a Section 10 Class B semifinal before losing 2-1 to top-seeded Canton in the championship game.
This season Salmon River has gotten off to a 7-4 overall start with a 4-2 record in the Northern Athletic Conference’s Central Division.
Tim Cook Jr., now a senior, was on the four-win team as a freshman and has been enjoying the growth of the program in his final season. Cook’s younger brother, Kade, a freshman, is also on the team.
“Then it was more about kick the ball and see if we are more athletic than the other team,” Cook Jr. said. “Not it’s more of a ball-control team and we can dominate teams when we are playing. The game has slowed down for me. When I was a freshman it seemed like it was going fast.”
Cook Jr. is the center-midfielder for Salmon River and one of the team captains. His role is more than scoring, but he has produced three goals and assisted on another through the first 11 games.
“You really need to control the middle of the field, play an offensive role and a defensive role,” said coach Cook. “That’s the big thing he does. He is kind of a game controller. We are lucky that we have a team that has a good core of kids who have played together, not just at school, but in a summer league with us. They play in a turf league in Potsdam. We have a lot of players, whether it be minor soccer or just with school, who have a lot of experience and (Cook Jr.) is right there in the middle of it. He is very physical in the middle and he doesn’t take a lot of fouls, despite the fact that he is physical, because he is in control of himself.”
The Cook family is best known for hockey. Tim is the head coach of the boys varsity team and Cook Jr.’s uncle, Ted, played NCAA Division I men’s hockey at Niagara. Cook Jr. also has hockey aspirations after his high school career is done.
Cook has been able to use some of his hockey coaching experiences to improve the soccer team.
“We’ve tried to mimic some of the things that have been done with the hockey program,” coach Cook said. “We started to take the nonleague trips and our schedule is really amped up. We are trying to play the best competition we can, whether you win or lose, those are things that will help you, especially playing (Class B and Class A) schools in the Central. What’s nice is we are starting to control the stats in our games, whether we win or lose, we are doing what we’d like to do and seeing some results from it.”
This year Salmon River opened the season playing defending state Class B champion Westhill in Syracuse and lost 3-0. The Shamrocks followed that with a loss against General Brown, who is 9-1-1 overall this season.
Cook Jr., who also plays baseball in the spring, has his father as a coach for two seasons and his style of play and attitude fits in well with what his dad is trying to achieve.
“The thing I like about it is I get feedback about my game and only my game,” Cook Jr. said. “He doesn’t treat me different than other people, he acts like my coach. I can ask him at different times about what happened during a game and what was going on, what he thought of it. When he gives me the feedback I know he knows what he is talking about. We don’t mess around in practices, but we tend to include competitive stuff, so it’s always a good time. It’s always nice to know everybody is always doing better.”
Getting so close to a championship a year ago has also accelerated the timeline for how soon the Shamrocks believe they can be a championship team.
“I want to win the league, and then hopefully the section and then go on to states,” Cook Jr. said. “Our main goal is to go to the state tournament this year. Last year we were close. This year we have a good chance.”
The Cook file
Hometown: Fort Covington.
Parents: Tim and Amanda.
Siblings: Brother, Kade; Sister, Grace.
Other: Varsity Club, National Honor Society, former member of student council.