Shamokin volleyball

Members of the Shamokin Area High School volleyball team get pumped up before playing Dallas in the District 2-4 Subregional Championship in Dallas last year.

After spending six years away from the game of volleyball, a familiar voice is back to guide Shamokin Area and it is none other than that of Wanda Cook.

Cook is returning following Andrew Arnold’s decision to step down earlier this offseason after the Indians went 7-8 and missed the postseason.

What made Cook choose to make a comeback?

“I love the game. I left coaching in 2013 due to family obligations. I always thought I would return, so when Andrew Arnold decided to step down, the opportunity to coach came at a more convenient time for me. I now have the opportunity to coach once again with my husband Stephen Cook along with two assistant coaches, Emily Witt and Emily Linkoski, who played for me back in 2009,” Cook said.

Cook discussed what makes Shamokin a special school to coach at and even included all of the changes that she has witnessed during her time at the helm.

“When I began coaching at Shamokin Area, volleyball was not on anyone’s radar. So, what began as a six-man rotation, 15 point game, transcended into a 25 point game with points awarded on each play. Numerous rule changes came about and a Libero was added. It was exciting to be a part of these changes and see how they have improved the game itself,” Cook noted about the changes made to the game.

“However, the best part of coaching and what makes it special has been all the students I had the opportunity to coach over the years. It is rewarding to see them become responsible adults with families and careers.”

One benefit Cook will have is that several players from last year’s team will be apart of Shamokin’s roster.

“This year we have six returning letterman, Rhiannon Kogut, Molly Stevens, Gabby Greager, Emma Laughlin, Ariana Nolter and Morgan Nolter all of whom will help us achieve the expectations we have of making districts. From there, time will tell,” Cook added about the return of the familiar faces.

Every coach has their method to help players tap into their potential and with plenty of coaches becoming more adaptable, it can put an athlete at ease with a game plan, new teammates, etc.

Cook shared how she has evolved as a coach and understands that going forward is vital and will be pivot during different situations.

“It’s difficult to stay steadfast to one particular style of coaching. When I began coaching 15 or more years ago I was more of a rule follower, disciplinarian. What I’ve learned through the years is to be more flexible, each athlete responds to different techniques,” Cook said.

“What works well with one athlete might do poorly with another. It is my focus to make all the athletes gain confidence in their abilities and help them become the best volleyball player and individual they can be. Adapting to each situation is the key.”

Cook also gave her insight as to what she learned during her days as the Shamokin leader.

“Nothing is a sure thing. Students come and go in sports for many reasons, so I have learned to look at obstacles as exciting challenges not setbacks,” Cook explained.

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