|Cooley Is Crossover Superstar for Yorktown|
|Thursday, 22 March 2012 21:16|
BY CHUCK SLATER
In high school, many varsity athletes perform in two different sports. But when it comes to superstars, it is not so common. Long-term devotion to a sport is needed to reach an elite level, thus two-sport superstars usually accomplish that feat in related activities: indoor and outdoor track, field hockey and lacrosse.
So how does one explain Yorktown senior Eric Cooley? As a 6-3, 240-pounder, he was all-state this past fall while playing defensive nose guard and offensive guard. Taking off a few pounds now, he is a 6-3, 225-pound lacrosse defenseman preparing for his final undergraduate sport as an all-county returnee.
Cooley has always been big and bright – he made the Golden Dozen for scholar-athletes this past football season – but he has been so much more on his chosen athletic fields, so much more that he received college scholarship offers in both sports.
Listen to his coaches.
“He’s been an outstanding starter for me for three years,” says Mike Rescigno, the veteran Yorktown football coach. “He was a big kid who came to me as a puppy but his progress from his freshman-team year has been remarkable.
“I can’t say enough about him He’s a natural leader, deceptively quick, extremely coachable and his mobility for his size is remarkable. He’s a poster boy for off-season preparation. This is one of the great ones I was most honored to coach.”
“I’ve watched him since he was little,” says Dave Marr, the Huskers’ veteran lacrosse coach who is guiding Cooley for a third varsity season. “He’s one of our captains, a big, strong athlete who is a team player, has good skills and always plays hard.
“Physicality is his strongest suit. You don’t expect a big guy to move so well, but he does. Attackmen don’t like going against him, not even in practice.”
After sorting through an array of scholarship offers in his two sports, Cooley settled on lacrosse at Rutgers University.
“I followed my heart – I felt it was the best fit with my future,” Cooley explained. “Rutgers has a very good physical therapy department.
“I can see coaching in my future, too.”
“His ability will take him further in lacrosse,” said Marr. “He will do very well at Rutgers.”
Ask the physical, stay-at-home defenseman about the sport he has chosen for college and he cites “the mental part of the games.”
“There are so many different things you can do on a lacrosse field,” he explains. “It’s very physically demanding and you can’t do it alone. You need the other nine guys you are on the field with – in fact, the whole 37 on the roster.”
Interestingly, however, the big youngster’s first sport of concentration was neither football nor lacrosse.
“My main sport for a while was soccer,” Cooley said, “but I dropped it in the sixth grade.”
The versatile athlete also tried his hand at JV basketball and wrestling before settling on the two sports in which he has been honored. Now, in his final high school term, he is looking for an elusive state championship.
Marr’s 14-8 club made the state semifinals last year. “We lost four key kids to graduation,” the coach said, “but this club has the potential to be just as good or better.”
The feeling is that Cooley has the potential to be just as good as he has been in high school or better in Rutgers’ lacrosse lineup. But, one wonders, might not he be tempted to sneak over to the football tryouts this fall?
“No,” said Eric Cooley. “At Rutgers, lacrosse is a sport you work at year-round.”