She sat on one of the big blue cushy blocks in the Field House of Valparaiso High School. Her smile was easy and her disposition was sunny. It wasn’t hard to see why Lorie Cook, the head gymnastics coach for VHS was a Valpo Life in the Spotlight.
Cook was born and raised jut outside of Buffalo, New York. What brought her to Indiana was college.
“I competed at Indiana State and went to school there,” Cook said.
How did she get to Valparaiso?
Cook smiled. “It was my first job out of college.”
Cook has been with VHS for 38 years. For 36 of those years she was a physical education teacher. She retired two years ago and has been coaching only gymnastics ever since.
“I loved teaching,” Cook said. “But it was time to cut back hours.”
Cook came to VHS when the gymnastics program was only held in the summer. She helped turn it into a year-round program. She also was a catalyst in the creation of the middle school gymnastics program.
“Having been here so long, I’ve seen an evolution of school athletics,” Cook stated. “As someone who grew up without Title IX, it’s nice to see these opportunities.”
For those who are unaware Title IX is a part of the Education Amendment of 1972. It states that no person shall be denied or excluded from any education program that receives Federal financial assistance.
Cook lives in Valparaiso in what she calls a “Mother’s Paradise” because she lives close to her two children and one granddaughter. She really enjoys living here.
“I came from a smaller town so I like the size of Valparaiso,” Cook said. “The school system is great because it provides lots of opportunities both academically and athletically. There’s lots to do, people are friendly, and it’s nice to go out and see friendly faces.”
In her free time, Cook likes to read, spend time with her family and play tennis. When asked what the most fulfilling part of her job was, Cook said watching her students grow.
“It’s awesome to see a kid learn a new skill,” Cook exclaimed. “We’ve had some kids since they were five or six years old, and watching them go through stuff and become more confident, outgoing and focused is great. We have some students that come back after graduation to visit and keep in touch. In the end it’s all about relationships.”
Cook then disclosed words of wisdom for those starting out and looking to be successful:
“Try to find something that you are passionate about,” Cook said. “Find something you love, then find a way to do it.”
Pure, positive and simple words to live by. Speaking of positive, Cook doesn’t plan to stop here. She has future goals!
“I want to stay involved in with my family and with my granddaughter's life. Plus, VHS gymnastics has nine state titles. A perfect ten would be awesome!” Then Cook added with a grin, “I’d also like to keep getting better at tennis!”
To find out more about Lorie Cook and the VHS gymnastics program click here!