The philosophy of John Cook can be summarized in two simple words: Dream Big.
When John Cook took over the reins of the Nebraska volleyball program in 2000, 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 Tournament 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.
His goals included consistently selling out home matches at the NU Coliseum, expanding the media exposure for his program and most importantly, continuing the tradition of athletic and academic excellence started by Pettit nearly a quarter of a century earlier. His vision catapulted the program to a new phase in 2013, as the Devaney Center underwent a $20 million renovation and became the new home for Nebraska volleyball. Moving to the Devaney Center increased the capacity crowd for Nebraska volleyball matches from 4,125 at the Coliseum to nearly 8,000 in addition to 400 standing-room-only tickets. In addition, five suites that give a private and expansive view of the action were built on the south side of the building and student seating was drastically increased.
Cook’s vision is for the Huskers to remain at the forefront of college volleyball to enhance the sport at both the local and national levels. The Huskers have done just that, reaching the NCAA Semifinals four straight years from 2015 to 2019 with two NCAA Championships (2015 and 2017) – under Cook, and leading the nation in attendance every year since 2013.
Consistent excellence has been a hallmark of Cook’s Nebraska squads. Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has guided the Huskers to four national titles, 10 NCAA Semifinals appearances, nine Big 12 titles and three Big Ten championships. His teams have compiled a 656-98 record, owning the nation’s top winning percentages (.870) during his tenure. Cook has also excelled against ranked teams, compiling a 216-84 record. The Huskers have appeared in an NCAA Regional 28 times in the last 29 years, including 22 of 23 during Cook’s tenure.
With Cook at the helm, Nebraska has produced numerous individual honors, including five Olympians, a Honda-Broderick Cup winner, three AVCA Division I National Players of the Year, two NCAA Top Ten Award winners, two Senior CLASS Award winners, 64 AVCA All-Americans, three CoSIDA Academic All-Americans of the Year, 20 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, one Big Ten Player of the Year, six Big 12 Players of the Year and three Big 12 Co-Players of the Year. Husker volleyball players combined for 40 first-team All-Big 12 awards and 61 academic All-Big 12 certificates in Cook’s tenure, while the Huskers have earned 37 All-Big Ten honors and 76 Academic All-Big Ten accolades since 2011.
With 817 career wins entering the 2023 season, Cook ranks fifth among active Division I head coaches and seventh all-time in career win percentage at .827.
Cook’s accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed, as he is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a seven-time conference coach of the year, including his selection as Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017. He is one of only four active coaches – and one of six all-time – to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award. In 2017, Cook was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame, joining Pettit as former Husker head coaches in the hall.
“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 Buy Here
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.
“Phelps Memorial Health Center’s experience with hosting coach John Cook was nothing short of phenomenal! Our team, like many others, has experienced so much defeat and burnout throughout the pandemic. Coach Cook was not afraid to address the difficult issues that many teams face in staying motivated. He gave examples of how to stay focused on the goals we set, and stressed the importance of supporting each other throughout the process. He was so casual and friendly, and we truly connected with his message about functioning and building the essentials to building a successful team. Of course, our teammates loved the opportunity to chat with him for a short time after the presentation as well! Overall, just an incredible experience!”
Holly Rahmann, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Phelps Memorial Health Center
“Coach Cook is an incredible speaker! He interacted extremely well with the audience and his message has something for everyone, from players to coaches and parents. It is easy to see why so many individuals want to play for him and why his teams achieve such a high level of success year after year. Everyone in the audience was energized as a result of listening to Coach Cook! Also, I will absolutely be in touch with Tyler and Barry at MSB about future banquets as they were extremely easy to work with.”
Nate Larsen, Assistant Principal & Athletic Director, Logan View High School
“Coach Cook’s speech at our awards banquet was amazing. He was very interactive with the crowd and made a real connection with everyone. I received many compliments from students, parents, staff, and community members after his presentation. Coach Cook received a standing ovation when he was announced, and when he finished. He’s truly a professional, but was also very easy to work with. MSB was also very easy to work with. Their communication was great, and we would definitely be interested in working with Barry and Tyler again in the future.”
Patrick Ningen, Board Member & Superintendent, Creek Valley Schools
“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
“Coach John Cook was the keynote speaker at our FBL Financial Group Annual Kickoff Meeting and according to everyone in attendance, he did an amazing job! There were so many takeaways from his speech that we can apply not only to our business but to life. Thanks to Coach for helping make our Annual Kickoff a huge success! Also, a big thanks to MSB for booking John for us. Tyler and Barry have been great to work with over the past four years!”
Mackenzie Spitser, FBL Financial Group, Inc.
“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