Sports a labor of love for Zac

Zac Cook, a senior at Northern Kentucky University, has a passion for sports, especially basketball. He has loved playing basketball since childhood. Cook’s dad was the one who inspired him because he was such a big fan of the sport. He has spent his life around basketball, playing it whenever he gets the chance.

Cook started managing basketball in high school. The coach he worked for was a good friend of NKU’s former men’s basketball coach, Ken Shields (1988-2004). Shields recommended Cook as a team manager, and that is how he landed the job here. After his first year, women’s basketball head coach Nancy Winstel asked Cook to be manager for her team. He had the desire, so he took every opportunity given to him.

“Honestly, I knew I wasn’t good enough to play any of the sports, and I had a passion for it,” Cook said. “I just wanted to be around all the players, all the coaches. I just found another way in to it.”

This school year marks the fifth year Cook has managed basketball at NKU. He has managed both the men’s and women’s teams, and also the volleyball team in the 2006 season. Currently, he is with women’s basketball and softball teams.

Cook’s job involves a multitude of activities that are often time-consuming. He is in charge of setup for every practice and game.

During basketball practices, he runs the scoreboard, and during games, he gives out towels and water. He helps out with whatever needs to be done. Cook will travel with the teams whenever the coaches need him.

A typical day for Cook starts at 4:15 a.m. in order to be at softball practice by 5:30 a.m. He will stay at practice and help clean up until about 8:30 a.m. He doesn’t start class until 2 p.m., so he has time to take a nap, do homework or get some things done around the apartment.

After class, he will go to basketball practice and help clean up until about 6 p.m.

Cook only has class two times a week, so on the days he doesn’t have class, he will be at the entire basketball practice, which starts at 3 p.m.

Even though it seems like a stressful and time-consuming job, there are a few perks that make it worth it.

Besides loving the sport, Cook said the best thing about being manager is the free meals.

“When we’re on the road, the coaches pay for everything. When we have home games, we always go out to eat before the game and sometimes we get meal money from the coaches and sometimes we will order food after the game that also gets paid for, so we always eat for free,” Cook said. “It’s one of the good things about working basketball.”

Not only does he manage the Norse, but also on the weekends he works for the Bengals Pro Shop.

Cook is set to graduate in May with a degree in speech communication. He plans to go into broadcasting, either announcing or coaching basketball. His dream job is to work for ESPN, announcing college basketball games.