Western Branch head football coach Rashad Cook (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Western Branch hires Rashad Cook as the new head coach at Western Branch
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
On Wednesday afternoon, Western Branch athletic director Mark Didawick and principal Dr. Thomas A. Whitley introduced Rashad Cook as the ninth head coach at the high school.
For Cook, it’s a homecoming.
Cook played his high school ball at Western Branch before heading to Virginia State for his college career. He’s had coaching stops at multiple schools in Maryland and Virginia over 15 years, and he’s coming from Colonial Forge to take his first head coaching job at his alma mater.
As a senior in 1997, Cook was a member of the Bruin football team that went undefeated in the regular season. Coach Cook played under Lew Johnston at Western Branch, and Coach Johnston was in attendance on Wednesday to support Cook in his new venture.
“It’s not about me, it’s about (the student-athletes),” Cook said as he addressed the audience on Wednesday, particularly the students on hand. “We have to build a relationship with trust. My job is to put you in the best position to be successful. It is a honor as a guy who went to this very same school to come back and pour into guys who aspire to be… not like me, but better than me. That’s my goal.”
Western Branch football has a rich history. It wasn’t that long ago that the Bruins were top dog in the Southeastern District. There were many years where the Bruins battled the Oscar Smith Tigers on nearly equal footing just a little more than a decade ago.
In 2007, the Bruins were 10-2. Under Greg Gibson, in 2013 the Bruins again finished at 10-2. The athletes are there to win a lot of football games. As a native of the region and as an assistant coach who’s faced Oscar Smith while at Colonial Forge, Cook is aware of the dynamics of the Southeastern District.
“This is a big time special situation we’re in. Before you know it, your community will be in this building watching you get it done,” Cook stated. “Western Branch football is going to be back on the map. Trust me. It’s time to bring (winning) back to western Chesapeake.”
Cook expressed his passion for the game, his passion for coaching and his passion for the kids. He also stressed that it wouldn’t be an overnight sensation.
“I’m here for a journey not a sprint. I’m extremely excited about you guys. You have to trust me in this process. I’ve been there, sitting right where you are,” said the coach to the students. “Everyone has said Bruin Pride. Bruin Pride. It took me 17 years to realize what that is. In my mind, when you see some of the alumni come back, and you see former players and supporters of our community come back, you’ll see that pride is perseverance, respect for this program, integrity, determination, and excellence. Once you start buying in, there’s going to be nothing but good things happening for our school.”
– Andy Hilton