Last weekend, Viewmont boys soccer coach Dave Wigham fielded a telephone call from the mother of one of his freshman players.
She wanted to get the veteran coach's opinion on where her son should play club ball, and when Wigham asked the mom what her son wanted to get out of club soccer, the reply was simple, "He wants to be just like Cookie."
When you examine the kind of season that Viewmont senior midfielder Colton Cook, who is nicknamed Cookie, had on the soccer field this spring, and when you look at what kind of a person he is, it isn't hard to see why his young teammate wants to be like him.
Given new-found freedom this year, Cook was spectacular from the start of the season to the finish. In the eyes of the Deseret News, Cook enjoyed the best individual season of anyone in the state and, as a result, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Deseret News Mr. Soccer award.
Wigham has presided over a host of outstanding boys and girls soccer players over the years, but when you talk to him about Cook, it doesn't take long to figure out how special he thinks he is.
"He's one of those once-in-a-lifetime players," said Wigham. "When the ball was at his feet, I was on my feet. I got excited. When he had the ball, it felt like something special was going to happen."
It isn't exactly rocket science to point out that athletes can respond vastly different to various situations.
Such was the case with Cook, who was a solid player a year ago under highly successful coach Casey Layton but sometimes struggled in the rigid and no-nonsense system that the Vikes employed.
However, Layton vacated his coaching position after last season to become an administrator, and Wigham made it clear from Day 1 that things would be much different for Cook in 2008.
The senior-to-be was told he would be in the middle, that he would have the green light to do whatever he saw fit and that he should be as creative as possible.
Surrounded by a talented supporting cast, the results were pretty spectacular once he got on the field.
"The chains," said Wigham, "were taken off him this year."
From Wigham's point of view, Cook's fantastic season got going in Viewmont's Region 1 opener against Northridge. Down 1-0 at halftime, Cook made it clear to his teammates that it was gonna be OK.
"He just kind of said, 'Guys, we're fine. We're not gonna lose this game,"' recalled Wigham.
Cook backed up his words by assisting on both of Viewmont's second-half goals en route to a 2-1 come-from-behind win.
Two weeks later, the rest of the state began to take notice of Cook when he scored twice and had a hand in all eight goals when Viewmont destroyed Layton 8-2 in what was an early showdown for supremacy in Region 1.
He didn't look back from there, and he led Viewmont all the way to the state championship game, which the Vikes lost 1-0 to Brighton.
Cook finished the season with six goals, most of which were technically superb and several of which came in critical situations, and he had a host of assists.
Wigham doesn't track assists for his teams but estimated that Cook "easily" had a hand in at least 75 percent of the 50 goals the Vikings scored in 2008.
That phenomenal ability as a play-maker has drawn interest from a Pac-10 school and a Big 12 school, but Cook has decided to forgo collegiate soccer temporarily, he hopes in order to serve an LDS mission.
He received his mission call to Seoul, Korea, last week.
"I want to play (college) soccer, I'll tell you straight up," said Cook. "I hope it's there when I get back. I hope I'm not forgotten."18 comments on this story
If anybody does get ahold of Cook after his mission, they'll quickly figure out that they have something special on their hands. Besides being a tremendously talented player, Cook possesses tons of character and heart.
When Wigham made him one of his captains at the start of the season, he quickly realized how proud Cook was of the honor. By the end of the year, though, Wigham realized how proud he was of Cook."He thought it was an honor and a privilege to be a captain, but as it turned out, it was my honor and privilege to coach him," said Wigham.