John Cook anxious for college volleyball season amidst coronavirus pandemic
"The most important thing is getting back and being safe and healthy," Cook said. "But yeah, I'm concerned and stressed about it."
LINCOLN – John Cook is normally in the mountains of Wyoming this time of the year. He typically gives the Husker volleyball team a break during the month of May after finishing spring practice.
However, Cook’s trip to the mountains this time is anything but normal as the longtime Nebraska volleyball coach hasn’t seen his team in-person since March after the coronavirus pandemic broke out.
“The biggest challenge is not to go crazy,” Cook said. “We’re so used to building every day, working every day, setting goals every day, getting after it. And now, there are days when I don’t even know what day of the week it is. I don’t know if it’s a weekday. You just kind of lose track of time.”
So now, Cook watches the time go by as he waits like everyone for any sort of news on whether sports can and will return.
“The most important thing is getting back and being safe and healthy,” Cook said. “But yeah, I’m concerned and stressed about it.”
So to relieve that stress, Cook left for the mountains, helping the construction crew work on his new house.
“I don’t look at my phone all day,” he says. “I get something done all day. You can actually see it.
“My day right now is get up there, grind, get dirty and come home exhausted.”
Anything to get away from the waiting game, which can drive anyone bonkers, especially his players.
“Our players are sick of Zoom calls so we’ve kind of shut that down,” Cook said. “They just don’t get to connect everyday. And be together every day. That’s been the hardest thing for them.”
It’s also been hard being away from the court, Cook says. The Huskers are expected to be one of the favorites to win a national title this season, especially with the Final Four being held in their backyard yet again.
“We worked really hard in the winter,” Cook said. “They were doing extra. They wanted to do extra. I think this group is really motivated. And of course, you’ve got the idea of Omaha and the Final Four, puts a whole other level of motivation.”
However, the path to get to the Final Four remains unclear. But Cook did receive some good news on Tuesday from the Big Ten Conference. The league may get rid of the non-conference schedule all together for the upcoming season to avoid further confusion with guidelines to stop COVID-19.
“We may have a shorten season, with maybe 20 Big Ten matches, that would be exciting,” Cook said. “We just don’t know if we’re going to have a season.”