Cook family involvement in Rhinelander skiing continues with new coach
When Tanya Cook took a first-grade teaching job in the Rhinelander School District last summer, she knew there was one other thing she needed to do-coach cross country skiing.
“Coaching gives me the opportunity to give back to the ski community,” Cook said.
It also was in Cook’s blood. She is part of a family that has a long history in Rhinelander cross country skiing and she is even taking over for her mom, Karen, who served as the team’s coach for the past six years.
“Skiing is something that has kept my family close because it allowed us to spend time together doing something we all enjoyed,” Cook said. “My four brothers and I all participated in the Rhinelander High School ski program and we were rewarded with a lot of great skiing opportunities and friendships.”
Cook said the toughest part of taking over is balancing her new job and her coaching position.
“I am a first-year head coach and a first-year teacher at the same time,” Cook said. “I have a lot of new responsibilities.”
To manage that, Cook will turn to her family for help.
“Luckily, my mom, who has been the coach the last six years, has volunteered to help me out with the team this year,” she said. “I greatly appreciate that because it helps me manage everything and she has the coaching experience that I am still learning about.”
That is appropriate as Cook said it was her parents that impressed on her the need to be involved.
“My mom was always involved with the ski program as a volunteer assistant before taking on the team as head coach,” Cook said. “My dad has been very supportive of the ski program as well through his support at races and his waxing expertise.”
While Cook has a strong family foundation on which to build, she hopes to bring some of the success she found as a skier to the Rhinelander squad.
“My goals are to help the athletes improve their personal bests and to have our athletes finish in the top 15 at the state meet in Cable,” she said.
And Cook knows how to get to that level as a state champion herself and someone who has skied internationally and in college.
“During my last season as a high school team member, the RHS teams swept state meet as both the girls and boys teams won first place,” Cook said.
Cook has also competed in four Junior National Championships and attend UW-Green Bay on a ski scholarship, making the NCAAs before transfering to Northern Michigan University where she had more opportunities to ski and run cross country.
But through it all, Cook has kept her eye on returning to Rhinelander and helping the Hodag ski team find success.
“I applied for this position because I wanted to keep the program going and give back to the team I was once part of,” Cook said. “Judy Swank was my high school ski coach, so it is great to be part of something she helped build.”