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Milestone Season: A Sit-Down with Coach Dick Cooke

Dick Cooke Celebrate 25 yearsIn recognition of Dick Cooke's 25th season as head coach of the Davidson baseball team, the clubhouse at Wilson Field will be named in his honor, Vice President for College Relations Eileen Keeley announced Saturday evening.

The announcement was made in closing of a day of celebration on campus of Cooke's tenure, with many members of the Davidson baseball family in attendance.

"The number of lives touched and influenced over 25 years is truly remarkable and Dick Cooke's legacy is appropriately acknowledged by the naming of the Baseball Clubhouse in his honor," said Director of Athletics Jim Murphy.

Signage will be placed in time for the 2015 season, which will begin in February. For more information about the naming of the clubhouse at Wilson Field and Coach Cooke's 25 years with Davidson Baseball visit the athletics website.

Q & A with Coach Dick Cooke

Dick Cooke began his 25th season as the head baseball coach at Davidson College this fall, a milestone that arrives on the heels of the baseball program's most successful season in more than a quarter century. This weekend, members of the Davidson community celebrated Cooke and his contributions to Davidson.

Q: Welcome to your 25th season. Wow! Did you ever think you'd be here this long?

A: You know, when I arrived at Davidson in 1990, I never put a timeframe on it. I remember talking to co-workers long ago and telling them that I'd like to find a place I felt like I could stay a long time. Davidson's a place where you get comfortable quickly, and then one day you look up and it's been 25 years. It's not necessarily longer than I thought it would be, but it is certainly longer than I realized, and I think that's true of a lot of coaches and people here.

Q: What is it about Davidson and Davidson student-athletes that has made you stay so long?

A: I can't explain it. Every year, I have more than 30 players, and I just like hanging out with them. They want to work, and they want to learn. They approach work the correct way, which makes it enjoyable for me. In terms of the college, we have a community atmosphere where everyone works together. You know, all the clichés you hear about Davidson – they're all true. It's a great place. Every school has certain challenges and limitations, and you just have to navigate those. We're really lucky here.

Q: Your 24th season brought your best record yet. How does that energize you, your coaching staff and your players for the year ahead?

A: I try to make sure our players stay zeroed in on each day's practice and workouts. Confidence is good, but we can't assume that if we stick with our same approach, it'll work out the same way. Last year did create some anticipation for this year and some excitement for what we could accomplish in the future. We try to set goals each year and not look too far down the road. We have to be careful and remember to give it our all every time we step out on the field.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as we begin competing as part of the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference?

A: Competing in the Northeast will create a different pulse for our guys. It's a different rhythm than what we've found in the Southern Conference. It's intriguing. I, personally, will enjoy watching families and alumni attend our games that live up that way and maybe weren't always able to come to games in this area. Logistically, it will be pretty different, as well, and we're working through those details now. Because of the nature of baseball schedules, we're already used to being away from campus three days at a time, so this will just add a little bit to that. Our non-conference schedule will stay the same, so our weekends are where we'll notice the most change with an A-10 schedule.

Q: You were a part of the coaching staff for Team USA several times, including at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. What stands out to you from those experiences?

A: There's just something about wearing a jersey that says USA. Tommy Lasorda used to say that we're playing for the whole country, and it's really true. It's amazing to play the sport you've grown up playing, and then take that sport and compete against countries around the world. You're from every corner of the world, and you all basically approach the game the same way. There's no other way to describe it than to say it's an Olympic experience. You're hanging out with the very best people in the game.

Q: Is there a player or coach whom you haven't met yet that you'd like to meet?

A: I'm always pulling advice from other coaches to shape my own coaching style. There isn't one specific person I'd still like to meet, but I'm grateful to all the players and coaches who have helped me along the way – many of those conversations coming from shooting the breeze in a clubhouse somewhere. More and more, I'm reverting back to the way I coached at the start of my career, and much of that material comes from other people. Once you feel like you know it all, it's time to hang it up, so I always remind myself that I can always learn more, and those lessons can come from anywhere.

Q: Davidson is often a family affair. How has the "Davidson life" been for your family-wife Susan and daughters Alison, Lindsay and Erin?

A: Susan and I have been able to raise a family on this campus – and truly raise a family. It's very common for a baseball coach to develop a sense that baseball is number one and everything else comes second. That's not what Davidson's about. The college allows me the flexibility to have normalcy, and it's a daily reminder that this place is really special. Many people know I was in a very serious car accident two years ago, and the way the college has supported me and my family through that time and still today has meant so much to us. It also doesn't hurt that we live, like, seven feet from campus.

Q: When you look back on your career at Davidson so far, how do you sum it up?

A: I want it to slow down a little.