Photo by Eric Francis
Nebraska Volleyball

The Lo-Down: The Woman Behind It All for Nebraska Volleyball

September 25, 2018
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There is a saying that the Huskers’ seventh woman is the crowd. Well, then the eighth woman is Coach John Cook’s wife, Wendy.

Most fans don’t even know her name, unless they happened to have looked in the media guide or were there for my senior night more than five years ago. However, she is known as a second mother to all Nebraska volleyball players. She is never in the spotlight or receiving awards, she doesn’t have to deal with criticism and critiques head on, but she is there for every win and every loss. She has made countless meals for recruits, attended a multitude of events and has never complained once. She is the most selfless person I know and makes sacrifices each and every day. 

Courtesy of Lauren West
Wendy (Wheat) Cook was San Diego State's first All-American in women's volleyball and is in the Aztecs' Hall of Fame.

This week’s post is near and dear to my heart. Nebraska volleyball isn’t at the top all of the time solely because of Coach Cook’s brilliant coaching mind and endless efforts. A large part of that success comes from behind the scenes, where Wendy has been there every step of the way. 

One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a coach’s wife. Your husband is always on the road, working late hours, consumed by the sport. You have to attend weekly events and host countless dinners at your home. You don’t just have to care for the biological kids that you have, but also the kids who are a part of the team each year. You have to always be supportive whether times are good, or times are bad. You have to fully embrace the mindset that there are no days off, just as a coach would. And even when you want to take a day off, you can’t, because a coach’s wife is always needed. 

One of the best stories I can provide to prove how big of an asset Wendy can be is a story from a few years ago. Brianna Holman came to Lincoln for an official visit. She was in the process of transferring from LSU and looking for a place to call home. My mom ended up cooking for about 20 people that night, including a few current players, Bri, her family and some other staff members. She made her famous lasagna recipe, a Caesar salad, homemade garlic bread, fruit salad and then went out of her way to find out Bri’s favorite dessert and pick it up, a chocolate Bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Shortly after that dinner took place, we were on a family ski trip in Montana. I vividly remember Coach Cook getting a call from Bri while we were in the middle of dinner (of course) and putting her on speaker phone. She ended up committing that night, but something that will never leave my mind is one of the reasons she gave as to why she committed to play for the Huskers. She said that Wendy made her feel “at home” and more than just a player. She wanted to feel a part of something special and because of my mom, she felt that here at Nebraska. Bri came over for multiple dinners over the course of her time in Lincoln and still texts my mom to this day. That is the kind of impact she has on some of the players who have played here or who are currently playing here.

Courtesy of Lauren West
Wendy (Wheat) Cook (1) goes up for a block as a player at San Diego State.

Moms in general are superheroes in my opinion. However, coach’s wives, make the ultimate sacrifice. My dad would not be the man he is today or the successful coach he has become without my mom by his side. He might not be involved with volleyball at all. It wasn’t until they started dating that he took an interest and started to learn the sport. Wendy, a two-time All-American at San Diego State and inductee to the Aztecs’ hall of fame, was a capable teacher.

Nebraska volleyball has benefitted, too. The Huskers may not have had certain players commit to play here if it weren’t for Wendy. She hasn’t taken a day off since Coach Cook’s college career began almost 30 years ago, and she won’t take a day off until he retires. That is dedication. That is inspiring. That is something to be proud of. 

That is Nebraska volleyball’s eighth woman, the woman behind it all, Wendy Cook.


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