When John Cook took over the reins of the Nebraska volleyball program, the challenge facing him was daunting. Cook replaced one of the sport’s legendary coaches in Terry Pettit, who won 694 matches and guided the Huskers to 18 consecutive NCAA appearances and six National Semifinals.
Cook, who left an emerging power in Wisconsin to guide the tradition-rich Husker program, had his own vision for Nebraska volleyball. He saw a program that had even more potential to grow.
To date, Cook has led the Huskers to four National Championships, six Finals appearances, nine Final Four appearances, 12 Conference Titles, and 18 top-10 final rankings since 2000. Coach Cook currently has 749 career wins and is the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA history. Under Coach Cook, the Huskers have achieved 57 All-Americans and 19 Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, seven-time Conference Coach of the Year, a recipient of the USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award, and was inducted in 2017 to the AVCA Hall of Fame.
“It is a reflection of Nebraska volleyball and the program, and not about one person or one player,” Cook said when accepting the AVCA Coach-of-the-Year Award in 2005. “We’re trying to be a leader in the sport. We’re trying to take risks and dream big, and fortunately, I’m surrounded by a lot of people who have that vision. I’m really proud of what we’re doing to try and enhance the sport.”
“Dream Big, Dream Like a Champion”
Coach Cook explains his coaching philosophy and what he has learned during his time as a head coach. In addition to delivering this speech to coaches and athletes, another version is designed for businesses, associations, educational institutions and non-profits in which Coach Cook discusses how the philosophies, beliefs and values found in successful coaches parallel those also found in successful business leaders.
Dream Like a Champion
John Cook has led the Nebraska Women’s Volleyball team to four national championships, seven NCAA semifinal appearances, and the nation’s top winning percentage in women’s volleyball. In Dream Like a Champion Cook shares the coaching and leadership philosophy that has enabled him to become one of the game’s winningest coaches. Buy Here
“Tyler and Barry, on behalf of the Buffalo-Hall Corn Growers, I want to say how much we enjoyed having John Cook as our keynote speaker at our annual banquet. It was the largest crowd we’ve ever had, and no one was disappointed. Our attendees just raved about Coach Cook’s presentation! The entire audience was engaged in each and every word he said. All parts of his presentation could apply not just to volleyball, but to any sport, and most business enterprises. Following his presentation, Coach Cook autographed balls and posed for photographs. He also granted interviews with some of the media in attendance. Please tell John how awesome he did, and that he is always welcome in the Wood River area!”
John Willoughby, President, Buffalo-Hall Corn Growers
“John Cook was AWESOME! The response we received from his presentation was outstanding, and his points all applied very well to the healthcare arena, even though his experience and examples were mostly sports-related. After all, good leadership skills can be applied anywhere! Afterward, he took the time to have a photo with everyone who wanted one, wrote special notes in his books for them, and even asked where people were from, etc. What I personally loved most about Coach Cook was how nice and down-to-earth he was–not egotistical at all, which sometimes you run into with those who are successful in leadership positions. I was very impressed and proud to have him as our Nebraska volleyball coach!”
Natalie McCormick, LeadingAge
“Barry and Tyler, just wanted you to know that in my three years here, Coach Cook’s presentation was far and away the best one we have ever had! He most definitely exceeded our expectations. The depth and tone of his message were outstanding, and his charisma and engagement of the crowd were second to none. We were very pleased!”
Mychal Lanik, Athletic Director, St. Pius X – St. Leo Schools
“John Cook’s presentation was excellent! I had many of our customers tell me after the presentation how much they enjoyed it. It was great how John talked about his coaching career, took us behind the scenes to see how a championship team is built, and related it back to the audience. John was very gracious with his time at both of our meetings. He autographed his book for the whole BASF team, and also some Nebraska volleyballs that some of us brought to the event. I have a Husker volleyball that both John and his daughter, Lauren, signed for me sitting in my office. Our whole BASF team felt John served up an Ace when it came to his “Dream Big, Dream Like a Champion” presentation! Please tell John, once again, how much we appreciated him working with us! Thanks!”
Jon Ivey, Sr., Business Representative, BASF
“Barry and Tyler, for almost a year the anticipation had been building for our event and our keynote speaker, John Cook. To say that the actuality was far better than we expected or dreamed up would be an understatement. John Cook was a joy to work with! Confirming the little details with him was a smooth process and his generosity with signing autographs to taking photos to engaging one-on-one with attendees was truly a pleasure to watch. His presentation was down to earth and his humble heart showed throughout the evening. The points he communicated were exactly what our community needed to hear and his humor was definitely on display! One never knows what to expect when meeting someone of his professional success, but we will forever say John Cook is a class act who is grounded and remembers that he didn’t find success on his own. Also, we will wholeheartedly work with MidAmerica Speakers Bureau time and time again. The variety of speakers represented, as well as, the professionalism of the staff is refreshing! Thank you again, Barry and Tyler, for all of your expertise and your insight…you were invaluable to the success of our event!”
Deb Kennedy, Executive Director, Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce
“Barry and Tyler, just a note to say thank you for booking Coach John Cook for our Customer Appreciation Banquet. Late that night and on into the next day our phones were blowing up with text and email messages thanking us for bringing John to Albion. We were thrilled because the turnout was about twice what it has been in years past! Our customers loved hearing John as he shared with us some of the ‘behind the scenes’ facts about his program and the young ladies he coaches. His talk entitled, ‘Dream Big, Dream Like a Champion’ was extremely well received by everyone in attendance. From the onset of his talk it was very apparent that Coach Cook is passionate about his team, and about the Nebraska fans who support them. An added bonus was John’s willingness to remain after his talk to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Several of our customers got to visit with John one on one and they were very appreciative of his taking the time to do so. Thanks again for booking Coach Cook for us, and we look forward to working with you again next year!”
Dallas and Krista Choat, Owners, DC Seed & Chemical
“It was a pleasure having Coach John Cook speak at the National Utility Contractors Association of Nebraska’s Annual Conference. He is the consummate professional. Coach Cook wanted to ensure that his message was inspiring, motivating and that it provided our members with practical information that they could use to strengthen their leadership and coaching skills as they build and strengthen teams within their businesses. Coach Cook arrived an hour before his presentation and spent time getting to know our members. He was gracious to answer many questions and exceeded our expectations.”
Janet Seelhoff, Executive Director, NUCA of Nebraska
“John Cook translated the world of sports to the world of business with ease. We enjoyed having him as our guest speaker at the Baylor Evnen Client Seminar. His humor and insight created a very enjoyable experience!”
Sharon Fenn, Legal Administrator, SHRM-CP
“Tyler and Barry, let me start off by saying that John Cook exceeded all of my expectations last night! From the get-go, he was easy to work with, understood our message and goal, and from the second he arrived, you could tell he was very positive and passionate. He made special adjustments to his presentation for our audience and he truly hit the nail on the head. He was absolutely fabulous on stage and off. Additionally, John presented awards to people, did a raffle draw for tickets, and stayed around afterward to take pictures, sign autographs and socialize! People ate him up and I personally got to know him and really appreciate him as a person – beyond the coach. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. I will forward him a thank you but wanted to let you know he was just amazing. We loved him!!! Thank you so much for helping us – we will be back in touch next year to book another speaker for this event!!!”
Tonya Vyhlidal, M.Ed., Director of Workwell, CHPD
“Overall, it was a very positive experience having Coach Cook at our event! His speech was very engaging and I could tell our guests were hanging on his every word. He was very inspirational and definitely fit with the theme of our fundraiser, Dreaming Big for Healthcare. He was so gracious and flexible to sign volleyballs, mingle with guests and autograph books. One of the doctors who has been to several galas said to me, ‘Coach Cook was the best speaker I’ve heard at a gala!’ I would definitely book Coach again!”
Jessica Prussa, West Holt Medical Services