Graduating Senior Q&A: Academic prowess, leadership define Cook's tenure with Griffins

Three-time U SPORTS Academic All Canadian Taylor Cook has transitioned to a coaching role with the Griffins this season (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Three-time U SPORTS Academic All Canadian Taylor Cook has transitioned to a coaching role with the Griffins this season (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – It's easy to focus entirely on a student-athlete's athletic accomplishments, but when considering the story of graduating senior Taylor Cook, his university journey is among the best examples of a holistic one MacEwan has.

Cook will be the lone senior celebrated by the Griffins men's basketball team following their final action of the 2023-24 season on Saturday. They host Victoria on Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m., both David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).


Cook has transitioned to coaching in his final season after a training injury prior to the season set him back. 

Among his duties has been mentoring Griffins players in the classroom, which is perfect for the three-time U SPORTS Academic All Canadian – a guy who has set the standard in that area for the Griffins since arriving in 2020.

"Off the court, he's a 4.0 student," said MacEwan head coach Mike Connolly. "He helps tutor guys. He's going to be a doctor someday. I want him to be my doctor. 

"We can't ask for a better student-athlete and it's really nice we're able to honour him moving forward."

Enjoy a Q&A with Cook below.

Mike Connolly coach's quote:

"Since he's been here, he's been a leader, he leads by example. On the court, he's hustling, taking charges, making the right decisions. He helped us out (coaching) this year when he knew he couldn't play. He's done a really good job. I think he has a calming manner, he's pretty thoughtful when he speaks. I think he's made me better. He's not afraid to say 'hey coach, can we just review this? I don't think the guys are getting it?' That's what I mean about him being a leader. 

"He looks out for everybody; guys call him their dad. He came in as a guy who was married, back off his mission, so he showed them a bit about maturity and how to deal with life. He's meant a lot to us in the program. We're going to miss him. Hopefully we can keep him on as an assistant for as long as we can."

Q&A with Taylor Cook:

What are you going to be graduating with and when?

I've got one more semester next year and then I'll have a Biology degree.

Do you have a career goal in mind?

I want to be a doctor, so next plan is Med School.

What's your passion like in that area?

I feel like it would be nice to be able to help people and I've always found the medical field pretty interesting. So, that's what I want to pursue.

This past season, you've been behind the bench coaching. What's that experience been like for you?

It's been great. Honestly, at the beginning of the year, I decided I could help from an assistant coach position as much as playing. Especially with school getting a little more intense, I felt it was the right move. I've really enjoyed it, though. It's nice to see things from a different perspective. 

What do you like most about coaching? Have you been helping with a specific position group?

I help with all the posts and forwards because that's what I played. Also, I've been assigned to help them with school to make sure they're all on track that way. So, I help tutor some guys and keep up with them that way – make sure their grades are going well.

Do you have future plans in basketball, either coaching or playing?

I plan to, hopefully when I move home (to Magrath, Alta.), coach high school basketball eventually. That's kind of always been a goal of mine.

When you look back on your career with the Griffins, what are some of your favourite memories?

It's been just enjoyable all around. I don't know if I have any specific memories that stand out more than others. Just being with the guys and getting to play ball has been great.

What do you think you'll most be remembered for with the Griffins – your legacy here?

I don't know. My moustache maybe? I had a moustache for most of the past couple years while I was playing. Or they'll remember my mullet possibly. It's kind of my own thing.

Anything else you'd like to say about your time with the Griffins?

It's been great. I'm excited to move on and I'll miss it, but I don't regret coming to play here.