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October 23, 2020
 

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Ada hires former coach Jon Cook

He will coach Bulldog varsity boys' basketball this season

By Cort Reynolds
ADA - With basketball practice set to tip off Oct. 30, the Ada athletic department and school district moved quickly to hire a familiar face as the replacement for Dre White, who resigned Oct. 6.

Ada hired veteran local coach Jon Cook at its Oct. 14 school board meeting by a 4-1 vote. Cook previously coached the Bulldog boys varsity squad for three seasons from 1995-98 after a short stint as the junior varsity coach. 

He has a varied resume of coaching at many levels, including junior high at Ada as well as collegiately.

"When you are looking for a basketball coach in October, you're not supposed to have great options available," said Ada athletic director Eric Perkins. "Getting someone with the basketball knowledge and expertise that Jon Cook has is good for our kids.

"Getting someone with the passion for teaching things the right way, with integrity, sportsmanship and a focus on doing things right is even better," he continued.

"We appreciate Jon's willingness to come back to Ada and help us in our time of need, and we are confident he will do a great job leading our boys basketball program," Perkins added.

In his second season, Cook guided Ada to a 16-7 record, a sectional title and the district semifinals before losing to powerful St. Henry at Wapakoneta. Ada was 6-0 in overtime during that miraculous season, which featured several other last-second wins.

Cook later moved on to serve as head basketball coach at Jackson Center for two seasons (1999-2001), and more recently at Allen East (2013-14), where one of their seven wins that campaign was a signature upset at Ada. 

"There is no sense in trying to dress it up or candy coat it; if my son (Micah) wasn't a senior on the team I wouldn't probably have seriously considered taking the job," explained Cook. "It has been 25 years since I was hired at Ada the first time.

"But coaching is in my blood. My son was a part of what I felt was a tremendously developing program the past four years. Micah made the decision to stick it out here during some difficult times. I never had a reason to coach high school basketball again until this came up."

The unusual timing of the opening helped Cook decide to lend his experience and expertise to aid the program.

"My son and his classmates matter to me, the Ada program matters to me and I've done some personal training and skill development with some of the younger kids in the program as well," he explained.

"I also have another connection to Ada since both of my kids have graduated or will graduate from there. 

"I don't know if it's a one-year job, two or three," he continued. "I have a clear plan of building a foundation for the program. I want to put together a staff that creates some continuity going forward."

Ken Jochims returns as junior varsity coach, while Sean Anderson continues as freshman coach and Travis Wireman will be one of the junior high coaches. 

Aaron Acheson, a former player for Cook at Ada and his assistant at AE, will serve as the varsity assistant.

"Aaron is an ultra-positive, upbeat guy and a good balance to me," said the intense Cook. "Ultimately I would love to see him get the opportunity to be a head coach, and this is a good step in that direction for him as well." 

Cook's son Micah is the top returning scorer for the Bulldogs in 2020-21. The promising roster from last year's 10-14 squad was decimated in the ensuing off-season and by recent transfers, as well as staff resignations.

Cook and Cayden Murphy would be the only two lettermen returning from last season. 

Cook also was an assistant coach at Bluffton University under Guy Neal for two different stints, and later served as an assistant for both the Ohio Northern women's and men's hoop teams.

At Northern for the past three seasons, Cook assisted recently-retired Michelle Durand for two seasons, and then Rich Bensman this past year.

He has remained active with the ONU summer basketball camps for years as well.

Cook is known for employing a deliberate ball-control, defensive style of basketball that may be well-suited for the roster he will inherit.

Cook is a graduate of Upper Scioto Valley and ONU. He was a student coach on first-year head coach Joe Campoli's 1992-93 Polar Bear men's Div. III national championship team.

He coached under ONU legends Gale Daugherty and Campoli, the two winningest mentors in Polar Bear men's hoop program history. The uber-intense Daugherty, a one-time Bob Knight assistant at Army, was nationally-known for aggressive, hard-nosed defense and conservative offense. 

Having been around those two successful coaches, Cook said, "I learned four things above all else from Coach D and Coach Campy.

"Number one is that preparation is paramount to success; they were maniacal in their focus on details. Two is that discipline is critical, team and individually, at both ends of the floor. 

"Three is they were remarkably demanding because they cared, which is what I strive for. And four, there is no such thing as an insignificant role on the team."

He noted one major change in coaching since he started back in the 1990s.

"With kids today how you say things is more important than it used to be," he said. 

Under the difficult circumstances currently at Ada, Cook has few illusions about how well this year's team might do in terms of pure wins and losses on the scoreboard. 

"As far as expectations, we have to focus on us and try to block out the noise, not be anyone's victim, and we have to finish the race. 

"I want to develop three or four core values with our team, focus on them, and not be as concerned with the scoreboard or wins and losses."

He added that the basketball team could also play a role in repairing some of the damage Ada is enduring right now.

"I hope the community will pull together and rally around the kids who are here, no matter what the scoreboard says," he offered.

"I hope we put a group of young men on the floor who are worthy of their support. I don't think I have ever seen the community with so much uncertainty and doubt, and we hope to be a part of the healing process." 

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