High School Sports

Central’s coach Cook retires, led Cougars to three state titles

Breese Central volleyball coach Jim Cook has announced he will retire from coaching the Cougars.
Breese Central volleyball coach Jim Cook has announced he will retire from coaching the Cougars. znizami@bnd.com

He had coached 987 volleyball games and won 711, but after the first losing season of his 28-year career, Jim Cook decided he had enough.

Cook, who led the Central Cougars to three state championships, informed the school Wednesday morning that he is retiring from the head coaching ranks.

“There were just some things that came up, and we had a lot of injuries,” said Cook, who is 65. “It just seemed as the season went on it was harder than usual. It just seems like time to leave.”

He has been the most successful coach at Breese Central High School in its history in any sport.

Neil Hamon, Central AD

Central finished the season 9-23, by far the worst of his career. Among a rash of injuries was junior Kendra Wilken, a Saint Louis University basketball recruit who was lost for the volleyball season with a knee injury.

But Cook and the Cougars had known nothing but success in their previous 20 years together.

They qualified for the IHSA State Tournament 10 times in that span, winning championships in 1996, 2005, 2007, each in different classes. Central also placed second twice and third three times under Cook.

711 Cook’s career victories, the 17th most in Illinois high school volleyball history

His 609 wins since taking over at Central in 1995, include 15 regional championships and 10 sectional championships. He won two additional regional titles in his seven years as head coach at Wesclin.

“He has been the most successful coach at Breese Central High School in its history in any sport,” said Neil Hamon, Central’s athletic director. “Without a doubt, it’s been just an unbelievable run.”

In all, Cook is 711-275-1 in his career. His win total is the 17th best in Illinois high school history.

But Cook may not be done yet. He says he wants to continue assisting with Central’s softball team in the spring and would like to stay involved in volleyball.

It just seemed as the season went on it was harder than usual. It just seems like time to leave.

Jim Cook, retired Central volleyball coach

“I think I would entertain some role at another school,” said Cook, who retired from his teaching position eight years ago. “I don’t really know where or what I’m going to do. I definitely would like to stay involved with the softball team and with volleyball too.”

Hamon said the door is always open for Cook, whatever he chooses.

“As long as he’s interested, the door is open,” Hamon said. “But he has to decide what’s right for him.”

Cook’s Career

Career record: 711-275-1

State championships: 1996, 2005, 2007

Second-place finishes: 2006, 2010

Third-place finishes: 1999, 2011, 2013

State Quarterfinalist: 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013

10 Sectional Championships

17 Regional Championships

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