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Sophomore center Coco Rourke feels eager take the floor with the Hand girls’ basketball squad this winter. Coco is looking forward to buoying the Tigers’ spirits with relentless effort on both ends of the court. (Photo courtesy of Coco Rourke )
Coco Rourke brings an aggressive approach on both the defensive and offensive ends of the court for the Hand girls’ basketball team. A sophomore center, Coco’s forceful bearing on the floor directly relates to her vigorous pursuit to improve athletically and academically.
If it wasn’t for her friend Natalie Lucas, a fellow sophomore on the squad, Coco might have never become a member of Tigers’ girls’ hoops. When she was in 3rd grade, Coco wanted to find a way to spend more time with her friend, so she joined Lucas on the recreational basketball team in Madison, and quickly fell in love with the sport.
“I’ve been playing basketball for about seven years, since 3rd grade. I got into it because I used to play at recess with my friends during the day,” says Coco. “My friend Natalie Lucas, who is on the Hand team with me now, was playing rec basketball, so I decided to join that season and loved it immediately.”
Coco has been delving into the intricacies of the game since she first stepped on the basketball court. Coco knows that there are highs and lows in every contest, but one of her main objectives is to always keep the Tigers’ spirits high.
“My favorite aspect of basketball is that if your team is going through a lull during a game or things just aren’t going your way, all it takes is energy and effort in order to flip it around,” Coco says. “Like a deflection or a steal, and then you’re off and running. Then the whole attitude of the game improves.”
Hand Head Coach Tim Tredwell quickly took notice of Coco when she signed up for the Tigers as a freshman. Coco rapidly rose through the ranks and displayed a knack for making clutch plays in big moments right away.
“This year, Coco’s looking more confident and comfortable in her surroundings,” says Tredwell. “So, we’re excited to be able to count on her aggressive style of play to produce on the offensive end and create problems for our opponents on the defensive end.”
After being away from the game for a while due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coco has been itching to get back to action. Coco has great expectations for the Tigers this year, but above all, she just wants to play.
“I’m looking forward to getting in the gym with my team and finally being able play together after being away for so long because of the pandemic,” Coco says. “This season, more than any other, I appreciate my ability to go and work hard with all of them every day and make each other better.”
Coco credits Coach Tredwell for pushing her to her limits. She says that Tredwell knows how to bring out the best in every player on the team.
“He knows exactly how to push everybody on the team in order to reach their full potential, so that the team can be better as a whole,” says Coco. “And he gets us all to understand that the reason we work our hardest every day is not just to make ourselves better, but to make everyone else on the team better.”
Coco spent countless hours dribbling and shooting at her house throughout the offseason. She also watched plenty of game film in order to dissect her strengths and weaknesses from her freshman year.
“I love to go out in my driveway and just work on my basics, like dribbling and shooting form, then start to build up to new things that I’m not used to or necessarily great at yet, so that I can be better at them when I’m with the team,” Coco says. “I also watch a lot of our film from last year and try and see what my strengths and weaknesses were, so that I can improve upon them. More recently, I have been focusing on the mental aspect of my game and improving my attitude when things don’t happen the way I want them to, so that I don’t let it affect the plays I make moving forward.”
Right now, Coco’s two main focuses in life are academics and sports. Even though she is only a sophomore, Coco wants to put herself in the best position when it comes time to apply for colleges.
“I hope to go to a great school academically and, if given the opportunity, I would love to continue playing basketball in college,” says Coco. “I plan to work as hard I can in the next two years, so that I can find the school that best fits me. I know the jump from high school to college sports is huge and, I hope that if I am given the opportunity to play, I am as prepared as possible to succeed.”