[04.05.13 | 2:00 PM--CORRECTIONS: Cook's age is 27; He graduated from Foothill High School in Pleasanton]
-courtesy Don Eng
Cook replaces long-time assistant Keno Gandara, now the head coach at the University of Miami.
"Keegan is one of the bright young coaches," Washington coach Jim McLaughlin tells Volleyblog Seattle. "I'm very fortunate to get a coach of this quality."
Cook has served on Gaels' head coach Rob Browning's staff for six seasons. Browning employs much the same system that McLaughlin uses at Washington, a variation of what's known as "Gold Medal Squared."
"I believe in Rob, I trust him," McLaughlin says. "And he said some awfully good things about Keegan. That made me very interested."
Last season, St. Mary's was 18-11, losing in the NCAA second round to #4 USC at Galen Center after upsetting San Diego State in round one. As it often does, St. Mary's scheduled top nonconference opponents in 2012, including Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Hawai'i and Kansas State. The Gaels were ranked as high as #25, and posted wins against other ranked West Coast Conference opponents, including BYU (snapping its 15-0 season start,) Pepperdine and San Diego.
With Cook responsible for setters and middle blockers, the 2012 Gaels ranked #2 in Division 1 in assists, trailing only NCAA runner-up Oregon (and just ahead of 2011 champion UCLA). Washington ranked 113th.
"Keegan had a lot to do with that," says McLaughlin. "They have some setters who can get the ball up there, and their hitters are killin' it. To do that, you've gotta have fairly good distribution."
St. Mary's was also #6 nationally in kills per set (Washington was #112), #20 in aces per set (Washington was #22) and #22 in hitting percentage (Washington was #31).
Cook graduated from Foothill High School (Pleasanton, CA) in 2003. He played club volleyball at St. Mary's while earning a degree in mathematics with a minor in religious studies. From 2003-05, he coached at Acalenes High School. In 2008, his U-16 girls' team for NorCal Volleyball Club won the Junior Olympics national title.
McLaughlin says. "We watched a lot of film together. He's got a good eye for the game. I think he can give good feedback to our players."
When Gandara announced his departure on March 20, McLaughlin was swamped with applicants. "It was far greater than I thought it would be," he says. "I was humbling in a way. There were so many quality people that had interest."
"I had no timetable. But it worked out really well."
- Washington's spring training begins April 15. McLaughlin says Cook will be in Seattle as soon as he can wrap up commitments in California. Associate head coach Leslie Gabriel is expected to return from maternity leave in time for the start of spring training.