Cook keeps reeling in honors
Amber Cook has added one more accolade to a career full of them.
The Grayslake native, who capped her track and field career at Lewis University in Romeoville with a national championship and All-American honors, recently was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference's (GLVC) Winter/Spring Sports Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's track and field.
Her latest honor continues the successful progression of her time at Lewis, during which she seemed to add more and more accolades each of her four years.
Lewis head coach Dana Schwarting, who recruited Cook out of high school, said a big part of her improvement was how much she increased her strength, which helped her be able to do different techniques.
“She really got into the weight room and got after it and really transformed herself,” he said.
Schwarting said that as a coach, it's rewarding to have an athlete come into a program and improve a great deal as a person and as an athlete. And it helps the rest of the team buy in.
“When you finally see that the hard work does pay off, it's awesome because it becomes contagious for the rest of the team,” he said.
The results of Cook's hard work and talent speak for themselves.
On the field, she won the national championship in the triple jump, with a leap of 42 feet, 3½ inches at the 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 28 in Bradenton, Florida, reported LewisFlyers.com. At this year's GLVC indoor and outdoor meets, she won five out of the six jumping events she competed in. Those efforts earned her GLVC Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
Also this year, she finished fifth in the triple jump at the NCAA indoor championships to earn All-American honors; and she was named the GLVC Field Athlete of the Year, and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year.
In her junior season, she won the triple jump at the GLVC indoor and outdoor meets. She also achieved NCAA provisional marks in the high jump in each of her first two seasons.
All that built on her accomplishments at Warren Township High School, where she was a three-time North Suburban Conference champion in the triple jump and was a four-time letter winner, reported LewisFlyers.com.
Off the field, she was earning high marks in the classroom. She collected numerous academic honors in her time at Lewis, including being named to the GLVC All-Academic Team and the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District First Team. Her cumulative grade-point average in her college career was 3.66.
Mental toughness was certainly a strong point for her. Schwarting said that in general, athletics is two steps forward and one back. Adversity is always around the corner, whether in the form of inclement weather, injuries or other setbacks. The coach said Cook went through that as well, but didn't let it deter her.
“She was able to go, 'OK, it's bad, but I can rehab and I'll come back and then I'll be stronger,'” Schwarting said. “Some athletes talk about, 'Oh, I just can't catch a break.' You know, let it bother them too much. She was really good at going through the process again.”