By Erin Campbell
USA Volleyball Intern
Brian Cook is one of the 19 players on the U.S. Men's Junior National Training Team, which is practicing June 30-Aug. 14 at GaREAT Facility in Geneva, Ohio.
He hopes to be one of 12 players to make the U.S. Men's Junior National Team that will compete at the NORCECA Men's Junior (U19) Continental Championship on Aug. 16-21 in Gatineau, Quebec.
Cook, a native of Santa Cruz, has only been in the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline since 2009 when he was chosen to attend the Boys' Select A2 Camp. Since then, he has developed into a sound outside hitter; so sound in fact, that Stanford University, the defending NCAA Men's Volleyball National Champion, took notice.
"I have grown up going to Stanford games and I have been around the Stanford campus a lot," Cook said. "I committed there as soon as I got the letter that said I was accepted."
Along with the obvious reasons for picking Stanford including the prestigious academic reputation and championship volleyball program, Cook's decision was easy because someone he's very close to plays volleyball there as well; his sister, Karissa.
"We have grown up together and we we've been close our whole lives," Cook said. "She is 14 months older than me and while we both have had awesome separate social lives, we have basically been best friends."
Karissa, a sophomore setter, started 93 sets for the Cardinal. She averaged 8.34 assists per set while also digging an average of 2.18 balls per set. In her freshman season, she received All-Freshman accolades for her play in the Pac-10.
"She is a huge influence on me and I have always wanted to live up to what she does," Cook said. "I think it is awesome that she has already gone through what I will be going through because she can give me all sorts of advice about everything from classes to how to be successful on the volleyball court."
Cook will become a Cardinal in the fall when he joins the squad for offseason training and is excited about being part of both an academic and athletic tradition that he knows he will experience throughout his collegiate career.
"It is a perfect school for me," Cook said. "When I was searching for colleges, I wanted a school with great academic traditions, a great volleyball team, a college somewhere in California and a team full of really great guys that can win national championships in the years to come."
Alongside the U.S., 10 teams will be competing at the NORCECA Championships: Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, Guatemala, Martinique and St. Lucia. The preliminary round begins Aug. 16 and the final round will conclude on Aug. 21.
Not only will the event determine the new NORCECA champion and give the winning team world ranking points, it will also determine at least two bids for the 2011 FIVB World Junior Championships.