By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A changing of the guard has struck the Penn State men's soccer program at the highest level. As esteemed head coach Bob Warming stepped down in pursuit of retirement this offseason, the Penn State program searched for another reputable figure to continue the legacy of the Blue and White.
A 27-year coaching veteran has graciously accepted the honor to fill Warming's shoes and to find his own path of player development, success and legacy to lead within the confines of Jeffrey Field and the tradition of Penn State Athletics.
His name is Jeff Cook.
"When you look at coaching positions across this country, whether if that's collegiate or professional, I do believe this is one of the best coaching positions in the United States and I am very proud of the title," head coach Cook said.
Before accepting the offer, Cook played and coached across the nation's pitch. Most notably, Cook led Dartmouth University to five Ivy League Championships and seven NCAA appearances throughout his 12-year tenure as head coach. Most recently, Cook haled as an assistant coach to the Bethlehem Steel FC, a Philadelphia Union United Soccer League affiliate, while also head coaching the under-19 Union Academy team.
"I think simply put it is a pleasure for me to be here after more than 25 years in soccer coaching," Cook said. "The chance to represent Penn State University, this incredible institution, it was an opportunity I am delighted to have the chance to accept...The potential of men's soccer specifically is just a fantastic chance for me to take the next step in my career and I cannot wait to get working with our student-athletes and get to know more about this very special place."
Cook has been instrumental in the development of young male soccer players from across the board and ages. He coaches a high-tempo, fast style of play with a foundation geared in the importance of an athlete's physical and mental growth.
"I really believe the biggest change in the last five-year window for example would be in my mind the psychology side," Cook said. "There are relationships in the why of why you play [that] are just as important as the tactics. That's something you can't replicate...so in a day-to-day basis you want well-organized practices that target specific skill development or team organization but at the same time if the players don't want to play for each other and for the program then all of that stuff is kind of negated."
As both an assistant and head coach, Cook is well versed in all facets of coaching, especially preparing for matches, creating and perfecting training sessions, analyzing scouting reports and video, and optimizing player potential and development.
Cook hopes to bring his coaching expertise to Jeffrey Field with a strong emphasis on a team-first mentality and a reliance on current players that have been in the program, like Dani Marks, Aaron Molloy and Brandon Hackenberg.
"Everything we do here with the Penn State men's soccer program is going to be centered around the idea of a team concept so how we play and possession of the ball," Cook said. "We'll have a lot of combination play, a lot of ball movement rather than kind of relying on two extremely talented players that might carry the game so to speak. We'll be a team centered group."
Cook also wants to hit the ground running immediately to help the juniors and seniors achieve their optimal road to success before their imminent departures as graduated student-athletes.
"We need to look forward and the older players really offered their support and their commitment to really embrace this new direction, while we go forward," Cook said. "I want the Penn State fans and the soccer fans to know that this for me is that we want to be good now and it's not going to be easy and we aren't going to make any promises about what we will do next season, results wise, but my commitment to the older players especially is that we are going to try to be successful as soon as possible."
As a new face leads the Penn State men's soccer core with goals towards immense achievement and success, the Blue and White faithful should expect the same dedication to tradition, greatness and victory seen every season between the goal posts of Jeffrey Field.
"We want to be prepared and as successful as we can be next fall," Cook said. "It starts immediately."
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.