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Long-time official Cook finds fun working meets

PROCTORVILLE — When Bob Cook finds something to do, he sticks with it for a while.

A long, long while.

Cook spent 35 years as a guidance counselor at Fairland High School following six years at a similar position in West Virginia.

About 33 years ago he was looking for something to do when Kenny Dillon and Mike Whitley were involved in the conversation.

“We talked about (officiating) track and kicked it around as something to do,” said Cook.

Dillon, a track official, and Whitley, Fairland’s highly successful boys’ track coach, got Cook to take up officiating track and he’s still controlling meets today.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I enjoy the players and the coaches,” said Cook who has worked middle school, high school and college levels.

“I like the high school and middle school meets. You get to know the athletes and the coaches. There’s not the same discipline or atmosphere at the college level.”

Coaches also appreciate Cook.

“Bob loves his job and he loves the kids. You can just see it by the way he handles himself at a meet. He’s a true professional, but he’s also a good friend of track and a good friend of everyone involved with track. I know I consider him a friend,” said Ironton girls’ track coach Tim Thomas.

During his long career, Cook has not only been a mainstay at the regular season and league championship meets in the area, he has worked the postseason including eight state tournament meets.

Cook said it was exciting to work a state meet, especially since it not only boasts the best talent in the state but runs on a tight schedule.

“There’s not a lot of difference in the athletes at that level. They’re all pretty close,” said Cook. “One year I did the long jump and there was about six inches that separated the top six places.”

During his 33 years as an official, Cook said he’s seen all kinds of athletes and all kinds of weather.

“You learn to dress in layers and adjust accordingly. I’ve been through it all,” said Cook with a chuckle.

One thing that hasn’t changed in Cook’s mind is the behavior of the athletes.

“There’s a lot of negativity out there about our young kids, but people need to come and see these kids. They all work hard and for the most part they are all very respectful,” said Cook. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of runners and coaches and they’re just good people.”

Despite his long enjoyable association with track, Cook said he may have to re-assess his status for next season.

“I’m going to have to take a look at it after the season and see if I want to come back next year,” said Cook.

If Bob Cook decides to retire, his presence will be missed for a long, long while.