More than a game: Running taught Peter Cooke to finish what he started
"When you go into combat, you depend on the team, not the individual," he said. "The military takes this interesting element of being physically strong, and then they put you through exercise after exercise. They put you out in the field 24 to 72 hours on mission, and they test not only what kind of shape you're in but what kind of leader you are. … The whole unit has to learn to be a team because my life could depend on how well you're in shape."
Cooke's running ability served him well, as he was always fast and in shape. But he said one particular circumstance at Fort Lewis provided him another life lesson he's never forgotten. His superior officers told the young soldiers that they'd only pass the physical fitness test if everyone in the unit passed.
"The score wasn't done by individual scores, it was determined by getting everybody across the line," he said. "It took an individual sport and turned it into a team accomplishment. I've never forgotten that."
Cooke said he's always encouraged his children to play sports because the success that comes from competing gives a person such confidence.
"At our house it's a big discussion," he said laughing. "It's interesting because we've focused on lifetime sports. Our kids play tennis, they're great swimmers, bikers, skiers, and I love to sail."
He doesn't often think of what his life would have been like, or how he would have turned out, if he'd never been an athlete.
"I think I would have lost a lot of character-building opportunities," he said. "For me, it's interesting how I had to keep up with the discipline I learned. In my world of PT tests and the military world, I understood that personal commitment, and I didn't have to depend on others to push me. I already had that whole individual workout mentality."
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