ATHLETICS: Olympic diver Cook shares passion with local youths
THE WOODLANDS ?• Kassidy Cook became enamored with diving at a very young age. And over the years, as she has grown into an NCAA All-American and an Olympic Games qualifier, her enchantment with the sport that has taken her through both highs and lows has remained the same.
So when Cook, a 2013 graduate of The Woodlands High School, was afforded the opportunity to share her journey with local youth athletes and their parents this week, she was more than happy to do so.
Cook was one of 10 panelists at the “Going Pro” event, presented by CHI-St. Luke’s Health, at The Woodlands Country Club Legacy Ballroom on Wednesday afternoon. She and the other speakers addressed a variety of issues surrounding what it takes to be successful in athletics and ultimately advance to the college and professional ranks.
But they also spoke about the importance of education, health and life after sports. Cook, who is majoring in communication at Stanford University, stressed the importance of putting your time and energy into something you love. For her, it was diving.
“You’re not going to do your best unless you’re having fun,” she said. “If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, deep down, you’re probably not going to put forth your hardest effort.”
Before the formal panel event, Cook had the chance to spend time with some of the children as they participated in football drills with New York Giants receiver Brandon Marshall and former Pro Bowler Santana Moss at the St. Luke’s facility in The Woodlands.
“It’s been amazing,” said Cook, who finished 13th in the women’s 3-meter springboard event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “I’ve had so much fun today. Due to injury, I wasn’t able to play football with them, but I got to talk to them and get to know them. They were really down to earth, and it made me feel really special in my heart that I could help these kids out, or at least inspire them. I’m really happy they invited me to attend this event.”
The injury Cook referred to was a torn labrum in her left shoulder. She recently underwent surgery to repair the damage, causing her to miss the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The procedure was also her third such operation after twice having work done to repair a torn labrum in her right shoulder.
“It was unexpected,” Cook said. “I got in a little bit of an accident riding on my bike ?• I got hit by a car one day, and I broke the fall with my arms. I didn’t think it did anything, but the next week I had a competition, and I was feeling a little bit of pain in my shoulder. It just didn’t feel right, but I dove through it anyway and ended up making the World Championships in Budapest.”
Over the next few weeks, Cook continued to experience pain in her shoulder, so she went to the doctor to have it evaluated. After a series of MRIs, the news came back that she had a tear in the labrum that would require yet another operation.
“I have a little bit of a recovery now,” Cook said. “I’m in a sling for about one more week, and then physical therapy for the next four to six months. I still have one more year left at Stanford, so I want to finish up my eligibility and win another national championship, come March. Then I’ll be done with NCAA, and hopefully I’ll be able to seek sponsors, go pro and go for the 2020 Olympics.”
Cook has persevered through some considerable setbacks throughout her diving career, including those afflictions to her shoulders, as well as knee and back injuries. But despite all of that, she still carries a positive attitude and is looking forward to returning to the pool.
Cook shared her thoughts on facing adversity during the panel discussion: “It’s like the saying goes, ‘You can’t have a rainbow without a little bit of rain.’”