New Miners 16U, 18U coach Cook boasts impressive resume
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New Pikes Peak Miners coach Cliff Cook knows a thing or two about finding good hockey in non-traditional hockey areas.
After all, he grew up learning the game in Dallas, Tex. – in the 1980s.
“I was a rarity back in the early ‘80s, as you might imagine,” Cook said. “Not too many people really even knew what hockey was down there back in those days.”
But when Cook picked up the stick at the age of three for that first season of youth hockey, it started a lifelong love for a sport that has seen him journey all across the United States before landing in Colorado Springs.
After spending time in Lake Placid, N.Y., for prep school, Cook went to Iowa State University before trying his hand at pro hockey across the Western Professional Hockey League and Central Hockey League, finally finding a passion for coaching in Oklahoma City, of all places.
Since then, he’s coached in Dallas, New York, Michigan, and even Albuquerque, N.M. This season, he serves as an assistant coach for the Miners 16U and 18U AAA teams.
“My experience working with junior players and teams across the country can be valuable to these kids,” Cook said. “Even though the teams I’ve coached have been at the Tier III junior level, we have a lot of contact with coaches and scouts at those higher levels, so I have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for out of these guys.”
This spring, Cook claims he had no idea that he’d be coaching in Colorado this season, but he had met Miners 18U coach Greg Vanover a few years ago while coaching in Dallas. While visiting friends and family in Colorado this summer, he got in touch with Vanover and things came together quickly from there.
“After coaching juniors for the last few years, it’s really refreshing to work with these 16U and 18U players,” Cook said. “I’m really enjoying how receptive these kids are and looking forward to developing them as players.”
— Zach Fogg