By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
North Muskegon High School is looking for a new boys varsity basketball coach.
The school decided not to renew the contract of varsity basketball coach Jeff Cooke. After 18 years with Cooke at the helm, the Norse wanted to move in a new direction.
Superintendent Dr. Curt Babcock was quick to point out the dedication Cooke showed with the school throughout the years and the impact he’s had on student athletes.
“He’s done a great job for our kids and we appreciate his efforts,” said Babcock. “No question about it, we have had a lot of very good years with Coach Cooke and we appreciate everything he’s done, but it’s time for a different direction and see where that goes.”
Cooke will stay on as the athletic director and is currently in his 20th year of teaching and managing the program’s athletics. The school is internally looking to hire.
The Norse grad enjoyed his efforts to keep the program focused and prepared and was thankful to have the opportunity through so many years.
“When I first got the varsity coaching position (in 1996) at North Muskegon, I was proud to be able to coach and represent my alma mater,” said Cooke. “Even this past season coaching varsity basketball, I still had those same feelings.”
The longtime coach of the Norse fought for success in a tradition-rich basketball area. His most successful year came in 2003 when his team reached the Class C quarterfinals, finishing with a 24-2 record.
“North Muskegon never had a basketball history or tradition like Heights, Shelby or WMC, to name a few,” said Cooke. “However, when I started, I wanted NM to have an identity of a school that played with effort, energy and with goals.”
This past season, North Muskegon finished with an 8-12 record and fell in the opening game of districts to Fennville.
Cooke won several WMC titles in his years as well as district titles and one regional title in 2003.