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For the week of Jan 30 - Feb 5, 2002


Cook resigns as Carey cage coach

18 years at the helm

Express Staff Writer

The Northside Conference lost one of its leading youth advocates and class acts with the resignation of Lee Cook as Carey School’s boys’ varsity basketball coach Jan. 17.

Cook, 53, spent 18 years coaching the Panthers to some of their greatest successes on the basketball court, including last March’s State A-4 tourney runner-up finish—best state finish in school history.

He stepped down with reluctance after a couple of parent meetings about his coaching, Carey athletic director Blaine Tingey said. The second meeting was attended by Carey principal John Peck Jan. 16.

The meetings stemmed from a half-time locker room talk by Cook during the home Northside Conference game against Shoshone Jan. 11. Carey trailed 34-13 at half-time against one of its chief rivals.

Said Cook, "I got after the kids. I was trying to motivate them and I pulled out all the stops. I guess a group of parents felt I was being unbearable to their kids. But I felt I had put my very best foot forward to make them play the best they could."

Cook, who wasn’t invited to the parent meetings, had a sleepless night Jan. 16 and decided to resign early the next morning, after a talk with his wife Sandy.

Principal Peck and athletic director Tingey both urged him to stay on until the end of the season, Cook said. But Cook, who had a heart attack a couple of years ago, decided he didn’t need the aggravation any more.

"I wasn’t forced to resign or asked to resign. My health is fine. It was strictly my own doing," said Cook. "I dearly love kids and I tried my very best. To have people say the things they did, well, I was very angry and very hurt. And it crushed my family."

Cook was replaced by assistant coach and junior varsity head coach Dick Simpson. Lane Kirkland will assist Simpson on both the varsity and JV the rest of the year.

A health and physical education teacher at Carey, Cook will continue teaching at Carey and coaching the junior high girls’ basketball team. He has no plans to yield his long-time job as assistant coach/defensive coordinator for the varsity football team.

A teacher and farmer who played basketball for Carey coach Ferris Lynn from 1964-66, Cook took over as Carey’s head basketball coach during one of the darkest moments in the Carey’s long history.

On July 16, 1984, 35-year-old Scott Peck and his 33-year-old wife Janice were killed in an auto accident near Jerome. They left five young children and a saddened community.

Peck had coached Carey’s basketball team for four years with increasing success. His final team, led by All-State player Brad Tingey, captured third place in the 1984 State A-4 boys’ basketball tournament.

It took his successor, coach Lee Cook six long winters to re-establish Carey as a winning basketball program. But starting in 1990, the Panthers became a "Team of the Decade," posting a 184-86 (68%) record including five 20-win campaigns from 1991 through 2001.

Highlights for Cook (224-185, .548 in 18 years) and his longtime assistant Dick Simpson included a fourth-place State A-4 tournament finish in 1993 and third-place result in 1994. In both years, Carey took home the State Sportsmanship honor.

Cook’s coaching success reached its peak last March when Carey (20-9) went all the way to the state championship game before falling to Mackay 73-46. It was only the second Blaine County team to play in a state title game—and the first in 27 years.

All six Cook children, five boys and a girl, have been Carey School athletes. The youngest is Tyler Cook, now an eighth-grade student at Carey.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.