COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- When placed in the spotlight, a person must choose how to handle the attention. Some crumble under the pressure, while others abuse the opportunity. A rare few seize the chance to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Kellie Cook, a senior in her final year of eligibility with the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team is one of those rare individuals. Not only has she worked hard to succeed in the classroom and on the court, but she has also taken the time to propel herself into the community as a positive role model for young girls in the Cookeville area.
After four years at Tennessee Technological University, Kellie Cook has taken advantage of every opportunity to improve herself. In the process, she has given back even more to her school, her sport, her team and her community. Due to her leadership on campus, Cook has been awarded the Ohio Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is the highest individual honor that can be earned by OVC student-athletes. It is given annually to three men and three women student-athletes of junior or senior status from throughout the conference for their accomplishments in both the classroom and athletic arena, and for their leadership qualities.
"Winning the OVC scholar athlete award, is a testament to my teammates, coaches, athletic staff, academic advisers, fans, and the educational department, said Cook. "Without all these people leading and supporting me I would not have been able to win this award. I am honored and blessed to receive this reward."
This year the six winners were selected from a group of 18 finalists by a vote of OVC Faculty Athletics Representatives. Honorees must have performed athletically with distinction, earned at least a 3.25 grade point average and conducted themselves in a manner which has brought credit to the student-athlete, his or her institution, intercollegiate athletics and the OVC. The award is based on academic and athletic criteria/accomplishments achieved during the 2011-12 school year.
"Kellie Cook has amassed what it arguably the most impressive array of service activities I've ever seen from a TTU student-athlete," said Tech's Faculty Athletics Representative Jeff Roberts. "The breadth and diversity of the activities are impressive, while the depth and sincerity of her commitments are inspiring. She brings the same level of dedication to her team leadership roles. Her grade point average simply speaks for itself."
Cook is an elementary education major with a 3.94 GPA. Despite spending several hours a day studying, Cook is known around the Eblen Center as a gym rat. But despite devoting most of her time to academics and athletics, she never turns away the opportunity to be out in the community.
"Giving back is extremely important to me," said Cook. "I think as student athletes it is our responsibility to serve and give back to our community and organizations. As athletes we are blessed and provided with opportunities that we could never have experienced without being a student athlete. We are put on a pedestal and we are role models for children. I strongly feel that we should take advantage of this and give back and make a difference while we can."
As a team captain for the women's basketball team, Cook exudes strength in leading her team and keeping them grounded.
As a sophomore, she helped the Golden Eagles to the OVC regular season title and in each of the past two years she has led her team to the OVC Tournament Championship game. Despite all of her athletic success, Cook is a student first.
"Tennessee Tech itself provides student-athletes with the best environment. You have a win-win situation in all areas. Mark Wilson, his staff, and Coach Davis preach that academics are just as important as athletics. They want us to graduate with a diploma in one hand and a ring on the other hand. I am proud to say that in May I will accomplish this goal," Cook said.
Coach Davis, in his first year at Tennessee Tech, noticed immediately the impact Cook had on Tech's campus. "In the short time that I have been here, I have seen Kellie compose herself like I true leader. Now, I understand that the term leader gets thrown around a lot, but you will not see a more dedicated student-athlete than Kellie."