By Dave Morrison
NEW RICHMOND – The Prevention Resource Officer program at Wyoming East High School is already paying off, especially for the Wyoming East football team.
Or maybe Wyoming County Deputy Scott Cook, who now represents the sheriff’s office at Wyoming East, is just a good talent evaluator.
Either way, Cook was part of a historic evening Friday.
Wyoming East sophomore Lydia Cook became the first female in school and county history to play in a varsity game. She contributed in a big way when she made all seven of her PAT attempts in the Warriors 49-13 victory against PikeView.
Bigger in the short term is she shored up a need for the Warriors, who were struggling with PATs and conversions entering the game.
Crook was well aware of her historic evening.
“It feels wonderful to be able to come out here and do something that nobody has ever thought of being possible in Wyoming County because everyone here is super traditional,” Crook said. “To be the first girl out here and everyone to be so accepting of it has been great.”
Entering the fall preseason camp, Crook was simply busy on another field, playing soccer, a sport she has played since second grade. =When school started, Crook still never gave the gridiron much of a thought.
“I couldn’t even imagine playing football,” Crook said.
That all ended in late September.
Enter Deputy Scott Cook. He was in the gym and saw Crook kicking a ball around the gym.
“Our cop at the school, Scott Cook, he came around and he saw me kicking in the gym,” Crook said. “So he got coach down there and coach saw me kicking and he said, ‘We need you on the team.’ So he called my dad and my dad was on board with it.”
Coach Larry Thompson said he was immediately impressed by what he saw, so much so he took her out of class, sort of.
“the deputy in the school, Mr. Scott Cook said, ‘Coach you have to come watch her kick,”’ Thompson said. “I walked in, watched her kick and immediately took her out of PE and put her on the football field.With jeans and tennis shoes on she was banging them from 30 yards out. That sold me right there.”
Still, Thompson was impressed by her debut.
“She impressed me tonight, she impresses me every day,” Thompson said. “She’s been with us four weeks, practicing with us, getting her practices in. She is a great soccer player. She runs track for me. She is a heck of a competitor. She lifts weights with the boys in the winter. I knew her work ethic and I knew she was going to do what she needed to do.”
Her first attempt of the night was a first-quarter field goal attempt from about 30 yards out. She came up a little short but that definitely was not a harbinger of things to come. It was, after all, her first attempt.
“I walked out there and I was so nervous,” Crook said. “It was my my first game, my first field goal, everything like that. The atmosphere was great. Inside I was freaking out and I couldn’t get a grasp on it.”
That changed in the second quarter.
She said the moment she made that first PAT was surreal.
“Everything dropped,” she said. “I was amazed with myself. I was just like, ‘this is an actual thing I’m doing.’ I don’t know how to comprehend everything still.”
She made six more on the evening.
Her teammates, she said, have been supportive. They are happy to have her and her kicking abilities.
“She did a great job,” said Caleb Bower, who rushed for a career-high 268 yards and four touchdowns. “She’s a soccer player, and she’s a football player now. It really helps us out.”
“We’re just glad to have her,” said McQuade Canada, who had his fourth interception of the season. “She is a massive help to our team. We were struggling putting extra points on the board. We saw she could kick one day and we had to get her on (the team).”
For all the difference soccer players have noted between kicking a soccer ball and the football, Crook said it isn’t much difference, and one of the reasons she seems to be a natural at the art of the kick.
“For me it’s not much different because I still have the same technique with it,” Crook said. “It’s nothing really different.”
It was for Wyoming East and the county. But it also shores up a position of need.
“She is going to be a special asset for,” Thompson said.