Todd Cook was a bit apprehensive. Griffin Cook was ready to jump into it with both feet.
So when the Clinton-Massie varsity boys basketball position came open a year ago, Griffin steered his father Todd in the direction of taking the position.
“Knowing the dream I always had, and knowing this could be the last year of that happening, whenever I saw that (Clinton-Massie) come open, I told him to go ahead and take it,” Griffin said prior to the start of the Clinton-Massie youth basketball camp Tuesday morning.
Todd, though, remained skeptical. He knew his son wanted to play for him in high school but there were some hurdles to conquer.
“I told him it was very kind of him (to want to play for me) but I didn’t think he knew what he was getting in to,” Todd said.
First, Griffin would have to transfer from Waynesville to Clinton-Massie. Though he would be coaching at Clinton-Massie, Todd remained a teacher in the Waynesville School District.
Plus, the two had a conversation just a few years prior when Todd applied for the Massie boys head coaching job. At that time, the two didn’t think it was a good idea for Griffin to transfer, so Todd pulled his name out of contention for the position.
When the job came open again, Todd knew the same issues would confront the two.
“It was very important to me that I’m a dad first,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that was the relationship he and I had … dad and son, not coach and player.
“I knew there would be friction at the house. I knew there would be friction on the court and we did have that at times, but overall I thought it was a good season for both us. A lot of good memories were made.”
After a slow start to the season, the Falcons finished strong with an 11-13 record. The Cooks will forever cherish Senior Night at CMHS when approximately 60 family and friends from Waynesville came to watch Griffin’s home finale.
“His main concern was making sure we didn’t lose the relationship we had as a father and son,” Griffin said. “I knew that would be tough sometimes being a competitive athlete and having him on the sidelines coaching me but that’s part of the game.”
Now the two Cooks are side by side at the Clinton-Massie boys and girls youth basketball camp, a three-day venture featuring both boys and girls basketball players.
“He knows what the agenda (at the camp) is going to be, but I like to see him mingle with all the kids,” Todd said. “He can work with kids. He just has that great rapport with them. He’s great with special needs kids. I see him where there’s maybe a kid that’s not doing as well, or maybe a little (shy), or not having a good time and I see him go to that person and cheer them up; make sure they have a good time.”
Said Griffin, “I’ve always enjoyed helping kids.”
Griffin is going to Midway University in Kentucky to play basketball. His major will be sports management with a minor in special education. Right now, Griffin is interested in coaching one day. If that comes, he’d be receptive to having his father on the sideline with him.
“Eventually, he’ll be able to get into a head coaching position and, by that time, I’ll be ready to step in and work under him,” said Todd.
Griffin agreed, but also understands the roles would be different than what they have been to this point.
“I think it would be cool to have my dad as assistant coach,” he said. “It would be tough because he’d try to overturn me at times, but it would be my job as a head coach to put him back in his seat where he belongs.”