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Prep boys' soccer: Viewmont's Drake Cook named 2016 Tribune Player of the Year

Published June 30, 2016 1:14 pm

Viewmont forward and "Star Wars" aficionado Drake Cook became the state's best player once he cut out the "dark side" of his game.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bountiful • Drake Cook is a self-admitted nerd. He's known throughout the halls of Viewmont High as the standout soccer player for the Vikings, but many of his peers are completely unaware of his burning obsession with "Star Wars."

"Everyone thinks I'm just this sports guy, but 'Star Wars' — oh, man," Cook says with a chuckle.

Cook idolizes the entire collection of "Star Wars" films, but his favorite is the latest installment of the saga: "The Force Awakens." Although he concedes the storyline basically rips off the original 1977 "A New Hope" screenplay, the junior found himself engrossed with the special effects and graphics.

Asked to relate himself to a character in any of the seven films, Cook quickly attached his name to Kylo Ren.

Wait. Not Luke Skywalker? Han Solo? Yoda? Even go with Jar Jar Binks, if you must, but stay away from the dark side, right? Nope. Cook was adamant in his comparison of the villainous apprentice of the First Order and himself.

"I'm not evil," Cook giggled. "[Kylo Ren] tries to do way too much, and that's kind of how I am sometimes on the soccer field. I'd try to do way too much, thinking I have a lot of talent and abilities, but it would cost the team."

Cook confessed he once was a "selfish, individual player that didn't care about teammates."

"I'm so mad at myself for ever being that player," he explains.

This year, "with the help of teammates, friends, family and coaches," Cook evolved. Typically disinterested in defense, Cook exerted more effort off the ball than he ever had in any prior year, which, he discovered, correlated with more scoring opportunities on the opposite end. As a result, Cook led the 5A classification with 22 goals, including seven in the postseason, as the Vikings claimed their first title in boys' soccer since 1995.

Cook's transformation in his approach elevated his abilities to newfound heights, and for that reason he has been selected as The Salt Lake Tribune's 2016 Player of the Year.

"I was talking to my coaches at the beginning of the season, and they're like, 'Drake, we're going to try and get you some awards this year,' " Cook reminisced. "I was like, 'Let's focus on getting some trophies and awards later.' I was really focused on getting that state championship. Now it feels so good getting some awards. All the hard work paid off."

Cook dedicated himself to the game of soccer at an early age, and typically played in older age groups, even sometimes against opponents three years his elder to expedite his development, but until recently he hadn't focused on the mental aspect of competition. Immensely interested in sports psychology, Cook, who said he's planning on studying the subject in college — preferably in Seattle — combined his physical gifts with his matured mindset and quickly became the best player in the state.

"It really gives me an edge for games by visualizing what you're going to do and being mentally tough," Cook said. "You don't choke."

Cook is the total package nowadays, with an inviting personality and genuine demeanor, and considering he's only just touching the surface of his potential on the pitch, one thing is for certain: May the force be with his opponents next year. They're going to need it.

tphibbs@sltrib.com Twitter: @trevorphibbs —

About Drake Cook

School • Viewmont

Class • Junior

Position • Forward

Noteworthy • Cook led the 5A classification with 22 goals, including seven in the postseason, to help the Vikings capture their first title in boys' soccer since 1995. He's interested in studying sports psychology in college, preferably in the Seattle area, and is a self-proclaimed "Star Wars" fanatic.






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