April 23rd, 2024

Cook makes history at National Lacrosse League Draft


By Lethbridge Herald on September 19, 2023.

DAWN OLSSON PHOTO Conner Cook is seen here playing with the Calgary Jr. A Mounties. Cook was the first player from southern Alberta to be taken in the National Lacrosse League draft.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Local lacrosse player Conner Cook could not be more elated with what could be his next step in his career later this fall.

Cook made history on Saturday when he was the first southern Alberta lacrosse player chosen in the National Lacrosse League draft at 49th overall by the Calgary Roughnecks.

“Well, yeah, I mean obviously a great feeling,” said Cook.

“I was nervous. It was kind of an uneasy feeling until that moment. I wasn’t sure where I was going to go or what was going to happen. But when I got the call from Mike Board, the general manager there, I don’t know, I lit up right away. I could see the area code and I had a good feeling what it was about and it was good. I was with my family and it was a pretty awesome moment.”

It was within the last two years of his junior career with the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League’s  Calgary Jr. A Mounties, where he was captain the last two seasons, that he started to get noticed.

“I (had) seen some doors kind of maybe opening for me and if I wanted to , I… just had to put my head down and work and that’s exactly what I did,” said the 21-year-old.

“I mean of course, one would say that’s their goal since the beginning. But I didn’t really know that was going to be an opportunity for me until recently. So I just went to work and kept on the right track and it worked out well for me.”

The Mounties went to the Minto Cup championship this past year and Cook believes it let a lot of coaches see him on one of the best stages.

He was also picked up by the Edmonton Miners for the Minto Cup quest in 2022 and made history by making the final and losing in the third game by a goal.

His Lethbridge minor lacrosse coaches, Chris Kukucha and Darren Andre helped him find his passion for the sport.

It wasn’t until he made Team Alberta in his second year of midget that Mounties coach Cody Hawkins had seen Cook on a national scale.

“And he put his trust in me and drafted me to the Jr. A Mounties and since then I haven’t really looked back,” said Cook.

“That was the past five years of my life and I owe a lot to those people who got me there.”

Cook made the Alberta national team in 2018 and it named an assistant captain on a team that won the tournament in Calgary.

“Oh we were all really excited and everybody’s phones were blowing up as the news kind of  spread through our little community,” said Kukucha.

“But to be fair, we weren’t surprised. I mean, We knew he was going to have a very good shot at being drafted and for him to go to Calgary is extra special for him his and  his family. So, being close to home will make it easier for all of them to hopefully get to this next level.”

Kukucha said you just know right away because he was so coachable, on a point where he thought Cook would go pro.

“Some players, you have to tell 45 times before they’ll do something right,” he said.

“You tell him once and he did it right. So I knew he was going to be a really good player, and he was fast, and he was very skilled and very smart.”

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