Each coach has different aspirations as to where he wants to finish his coaching career. While some are happy with coaching at smaller high schools, others look to move up the 'ladder of success' when given the opportunity.
Gary head coach Ryan Cook believes his 'ship has come in.'
After spending the past three years in Class 1A baseball, the 2008 LeTourneau University graduate and former YellowJacket collegiate player is on 'cloud nine' as he has been named head baseball coach at Class 3A Chapel Hill High School near Tyler.
After starting his coaching career with a brief stint as pitching coach at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, Cook found his niche in the Texas high school ranks, working for two years as an assistant at Class 2A Woden. He then obtained his first head coaching job in Timpson during the 2009-10 school year.
After two years as the head coach for the Bears at the football-rich school and compiling a 23-24 record, Cook made the switch to Gary High School this past season.
Taking over a Bobcat ballclub that struggled to a 5-15 mark in 2011, he helped the team improve in 2012, starting the season 5-3 and finishing with an 8-13 mark.
Cook said this past year at Gary was a great experience for him and he appreciated not only the support from the district and the parents, but the dedication from his players to improve.
"Coaching and teaching at Gary was a great experience for me and I'm so glad I spent the last year there," Cook said on Monday as he returned from Chapel Hill. "The school board was wonderful and the administration was great, doing whatever they could to help make me successful.
"Coaching and working under (GISD athletics director) Tony Wood was absolutely wonderful. He is such a great guy to work for. He taught me so many things and was so supportive in everything I tried to do."
Cook said Wood's resurgence of the Bobcat boys basketball program that went from a 3-24 record to marks of 16-12 and 18-14 the past two years - along with playoff berths those two years - was instrumental in his baseball program making positive strides in 2012.
"As a baseball team, I felt like we got so much better as a ballclub in just one season," he explained. "We finished 8-13 and won some games we weren't supposed to and won the games we should have won.
"One of the great things about working at Gary is the attitude and work ethic of the kids. They come out and bust their butts day in and day out and have a fantastic attitude. I've never seen a school where so many kids play four or five sports and they excel in everything they do. It was really a privilege to coach there.
"Coach Wood has really turned that basketball program around and I could see the carryover to the baseball program. They aren't where they want to be and we didn't finish above .500, but when the kids stepped on that baseball field it was as if they had a big 'S' on their chest. They just had confidence in their ability to play with whomever they faced."
But Cook said, like any coach, he has aspirations of taking over a program at a larger school and this opportunity was too good to pass up.
"This is really a dream job for me," he stated. "To be able to move up as quickly as I have in classification is hard to put in words. It's just a great opportunity.
"A lot of coaches spend a large portion of their career moving up the success ladder and trying to get where they want to go from where they begin."
Cook said he plans on taking the experiences in smaller districts and use it to his advantage.
"When you coach at a smaller school you're not given as many resources as you are in a larger school," Cook explained. "I think coaching in Woden, Timpson and Gary has helped me become a better coach. I also had just one assistant at both Timpson and Gary and now I'll have the luxury of having two at Chapel Hill.
"From an organizational standpoint, I've had to be a coach that wears many 'hats.' But, at the same time, by having to do that, I've become a more hands-on coach and know how to do a lot of things for myself. I think that will pay off as I move to a larger program."
Chapel Hill just missed the playoffs last season and returns a solid central core of players from that squad, Cook stated. He said he has high expectations for the team for the 2013 season.
"I have the same challenge that any first-year coach would have going into a new program and that's getting to know my players and getting them used to me and my philosophy," said Cook, who will also be an assistant football coach at CHHS. "From what I've been told there are 7-8 good core kids coming back and all the pitchers are back from last year.
"We also will have the returning Co-offensive MVP in the district coming back at third base. He hit .420, so he really can swing it."
Chapel Hill will be in District 16-3A once again in 2012-13 after the re-alignment, and will join Bullard, Gilmer, Gladewater, Henderson, Kilgore and Longview Spring Hill in the seven-team race.
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