Despite playing at a level of competition somewhat below her talents, Jackie Cook hasn’t let up on herself.
Cook, a sophomore outside hitter, is playing on Golden West College’s volleyball team, but it’s just a stop before she moves back to a Division I school next season.
Three years ago, Cook was one of the top recruits in the nation out of Fountain Valley High School. She went to the University of Nebraska, one of the better Division-I volleyball programs.
Cook, who is 6-feet tall, played but didn’t start as a freshman, then missed most of her second year because of a knee injury. She left Nebraska last summer and came to Golden West.
This season, she is averaging 12 kills a match for the Rustlers (13-1 overall, 7-0 in the conference), who hold a 1-match lead over Fullerton in the Orange Empire Conference title race.
“The only problem with Jackie is that she expects herself to be perfect every time,” Golden West Coach Al Gasparian said. “She’s very hard on herself. When she’s perfect, she expects it and when she’s not, she’s upset about it. The only person that questions how good a player she is, is herself.”
Said Cook: “I realize I’m hard on myself, but I’m getting better about it. There are some good things and some bad things that come from it. When I get down on myself, then it’s not good. But it also makes me push to do better and work harder and that makes me a better player.”
Cook was an All-Southern Section volleyball and basketball player at Fountain Valley as a senior in 1985-86.
Her college career took a turn after a knee injury.
The first day of practice last fall at Nebraska, Cook fell hard on her right knee and played sparingly after that. After 2 months and several visits to the doctor, torn cartilage was discovered in her knee. Cook had surgery and redshirted the season.
“I still went to practice every day and shagged balls,” Cook said. “I did that a lot. It seemed like that was the only thing I did.”
Being injured and not playing gave Cook time to take a closer look at Nebraska. She decided she wanted a change.
“You spend too much time in the gym for the game not to be fun and it just wasn’t fun there anymore,” Cook said. “I have family and friends there, but it came down to volleyball and it was just a frustrating situation. I didn’t like the program anymore.”
She decided against transferring to another Division I school because she would have been required to sit out another season.
In June, her parents suggested she consider Golden West, located only a few blocks from their home. If she transferred to a community college, she wouldn’t have to sit out a season.
“At first, I told her to try and work it out at Nebraska,” Gasparian said. “I didn’t hear from her again until late July but I still didn’t know if she was coming here. Then she showed up at my office with an application a few weeks before practice started in August.
“We still would have been a good team without her, but we are better with her.”
The Orange Empire Conference cross-country finals will be at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Central Park in Huntington Beach. Orange Coast, which won the team title during the regular season, is favored in both the men’s and women’s competition. The best race should be between Marcial Beltran of Fullerton and Alfredo Vigueras of OCC, who have split their two meetings this season.
Golden West is the third-seeded team in the South Coast Conference water polo finals Friday and Saturday at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.
Receiving first-round byes are top-seeded Long Beach, the defending state champions, and second-seeded Mt. San Antonio. Cerritos plays Fullerton at noon Friday and Golden West plays Pasadena at 1:30 p.m. Long Beach plays the winner of the Cerritos-Fullerton match at 6 p.m. Friday and Mt. SAC plays the winner of the Golden West-Pasadena match at 7:30 p.m.
The winners advance to the 7:30 p.m. championship game Saturday and the losers play in the 6 p.m. third-place game.
Community College Notes
Fullerton’s football team goes for victory No. 375 in its history at 7 p.m. Saturday in the first-place showdown against Rancho Santiago at Fullerton District Stadium. Fullerton is 7-0 overall, 6-0 in Mission Conference play and 2-0 in Central Division action. Rancho Santiago is 6-0-1, 5-0-1, 2-0. Fullerton and Rancho Santiago first played in 1921 and the series is 30-30-4. . . . Saddleback (6-1, 5-1, 2-0) gets its shots at Rancho Santiago and Fullerton in the final 2 games. Meanwhile, the Gauchos play host to Golden West (3-3-1, 2-3-1, 0-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday and Riverside (5-2, 4-2, 0-2) plays at Orange Coast (3-4, 2-4, 0-2) also at 7 p.m Saturday. OCC is trying to stop a 3-game losing streak and Riverside is trying to stop a 2-game slide.