Casey Cook is an organizational bungy jumper – when a situation needs addressing, confront it boldly and leap feet first into a solution.
It’s not that he’s a compulsive overachiever but, rather, an individual who loves a challenge.
Born May 11, 1945, in The Hague, Netherlands, little Cornelis arrived in Canada shortly before his fifth birthday with his parents and four siblings. The family settled down in South Burnaby where young Cook picked up his “Casey” nickname and a lifelong love for the game of lacrosse.
After moving through the South Burnaby minor boxla system, Casey joined the Coquitlam Junior “A” Team for the 1966 and 1967 seasons, accumulating 42 points in 32 games.
Lacrosse in B.C. tasted professional status in 1968 but, not wishing to endure lengthy road trips after completing a four-year scholarship at the University of Michigan, Casey opted to turn senior with the Coquitlam amateur team – the Adanacs were now playing out of Portland, Oregon.
“I don’t really recall what I did”, replied Cook when asked about his rookie season. “It’s not that important”.
But what he accomplished was to take the 1968 scoring title. The following season, he transferred to the New Westminster Blues and was instrumental in leading them to a Mann Cup final. In all, Cook picked up 145 points in 62 senior games.
By now, however, his interests turned to coaching youngsters. In addition to his job with the City of Vancouver Recreational Department, Casey coached minor teams in South Burnaby from 1968 to 1973 and held down the association presidency the latter two years.
In 1974, Casey turned his full attention to coaching the Burnaby Cablevision Junior “B” team, taking the club to four national finals and to the 1977 Canada Games held in Newfoundland. Following the 1979 season, he left Burnaby and began his lengthy relationship with the New Westminster Salmonbellies.
“Lloyd Solomon telephoned me and asked if I would be the ‘Bellies’ general manager”, he recalled. “I jumped at the challenge”.
The ‘Bellies went to the Mann Cup finals in 1980 but began the following season with a poor 3-and-8 record. Casey assumed the coaching duties, halted the losing woes and directed the team to the Canadian title. With the exceptions of 1984 and 1989 when he co-coached the club with John Hannah, Casey placed all of his efforts into the management end of team business.
In 1985, Casey took over the role of Salmonbellies president, a position he held until 2000 when growing outside commitments forced him to step down; however, he remained with the team as vice president.
And what was his team’s record over the past 20 years? – 4 Mann Cups in 11 trips to the Canadian finals.
Somehow, during the same period of time, the durable Dutchman managed to squeeze in time to:
Sit on the WLA Board of Governors for 15 years, three of them as Chair.
- Act as Treasurer for the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame
- Serve a five-year stint with the Canadian Lacrosse Association box sector, the last two as Chair, and
- Serve on several B.C. Lacrosse Association committees
Obviously, people took notice. Casey won the WLA Coach of the Year honours in 1984 and 1989 and Executive of the Year in 1989 and 1992. The BCLA named him Coach of the Year in 1978, 1981, and 1989. In 1990, the CLA presented him with its Award of Distinction.
By the early 1990s, Cook had been elevated to Director of Recreation for the City of Vancouver and was looking for further challenges. Politics looked inviting.
“I was the founding president of the McBride-Richmond Residents Association and became familiar with a number of community issues”, explained Cook, “and so I thought I would run for council in New Westminster.”
In 1993, he swept into office and remains there today. In that position, he sits on the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s sewerage and drainage committee and drug strategy group made up of 22 municipalities.
“It’s a real challenge and I love it,” said the father of two. “But there’s just not enough time in the day.”
Casey will take a little time out this year to be inducted into the Builders’ section of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.