Former Coach: Pios’ coach Cook one win away from No. 300
Eric Narcisse, The Advertiser, September 10, 2014
CROWLEY – As he sat in his sixth grade English class at St. Joseph’s, which is now known as Rayne Catholic, Lewis Cook wasted little time writing his report on what he wanted his profession to be when he grew up.
While his fellow classmates wrote about a lot of the more popular career options such as doctor, dentist, lawyer, judge and professional athlete, Cook relished the opportunity to write about his desire to be a football coach.
"Our teacher was a nun (and) I think it was Sister Arnold, but I’m not 100 percent sure," Cook said. "But coaching is all I have ever wanted to do. I never thought about doing anything else."
As it turned out, it was a good thing that Cook never wavered. To say it’s been a successful career path for Cook would be an understatement.
Cook, who is now in his 30th season as a head football coach, has enjoyed a stellar career that includes stops at Rayne, Crowley and Notre Dame.
In his career, Cook has won three state championships (two at Notre Dame, one at Crowley), finished as the state runner-up seven times, has led a team to the playoffs every year for the past 27 seasons, won several Coach of the Year accolades and is now one win away from becoming only the state’s seventh coach to reach 300 career victories.
"There’s only been six others to reach 300 career victories and that has a lot to do with people choosing not to stick around," said Cook, whose Lady Pios will play host to Breaux Bridge at 7 p.m. Thursday. "A lot of people have not stayed in the profession as long as I have and a couple of my friends were well into the 200-win club but they decided to get out. It’s not an easy profession, but to be close to joining the 300-win club is special."
Like a man to priesthood, Cook believes coaching football was his calling and as he later found out it had nothing to do with success on the scoreboard.
"Wins have not been the most important thing here," Cook said. "I can tell you that being a coach has been more than I expected it to be. At the time, when I was in sixth grade, I was thinking about the games themselves. But I didn’t think about how much of an impact you are going to have on the lives of the kids you coach. It’s more about what you are going to do for those kids and not for what you are going to do for yourself."
Cook’s career, which began in 1977 when he took over Rayne High’s program early in that season, recorded his first career victory when the Wolves’ Keith Terro kicked a game-winning field goal late to beat Oakdale.
"It was Week 3 or 4 of the season when I took over and I remember we were winning 7-6 and were preparing to punt the football," Cook recalled. "Our center snapped the ball and it went over our punter’s head and through the back of the end zone for a safety to put us down 8-7. But we were able to get in position for a field goal and Keith made it to win the game. We only won two games that year and that was one of them."
Two wins that season and a six-win campaign the following year, both of which resulted in the Wolves missing the playoffs, was the last time Cook coached a football program that failed to qualify for the postseason.
"When I decided coaching football was what I wanted to do, the number of wins I wanted to get never crossed my mind," Cook said. "I knew that I wanted to coach in college, so my three goals were to get a head job in high school, win a state championship and then get a college job. But winning 300 games was never something I set out to do."
Having a chance to accomplish the feat hasn’t been easy as it has required a great amount of support and sacrifice from his family, most notably his wife Faye.
"Whatever I’ve had to sacrifice to get where I am she has made double the consequences," Cook said. "When people ask who has been my top assistant coach, I say she is. She has sacrificed a lot for me to go do what I do as a coach. She has been great."
In the end, whether the 300th victory comes Thursday or later in the season, Cook is more than pleased with what he has accomplished up to this point in his career.
"I’m pleased with my career," Cook said. "To do this for as long as I have done it has been awesome. I don’t have a timeline for how much longer I’m going to coach. My wife deserves some time too, so this could be my last year, but I don’t think it will be. As long as I have the guys with me doing what they do, then I can coach a little longer."
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Athletic Network Footnote: Lewis Cook was an assistant football coach at UL 1981-84 & 1991-95.