Wilbraham and Monson Academy The Global School

WMA's Boys' Varsity Soccer Coach Gary Cook taught at three academies this summer for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Gianna sent cleats, shin guards, cleats and uniforms to the Life Connection Mission.
John will play for Team Stars and Stripes against Team Maple Leafs at the U.S. High School Lacrosse Challenge Cup.
Matt will be among the best non-professional golfers in the world when he competes in Georgia in August.

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Coach Cook spends summer teaching coaches

Anyone who has ever had Gary Cook as a teacher at Wilbraham & Monson Academy knows how much he loves to teach.

And that goes ditto for the soccer field as well, whether that’s at WMA or elsewhere.

Coach Cook, who begins his 34th season as the coach for Boys’ Varsity Soccer, spent three stints during the summer teaching soccer to other soccer coaches. He served as an instructor for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, teaching the National Diploma level course.

“This is an avenue for me to stay in coaching education with other adults, and at this point in my career, to share my experience,” Coach Cook said. “I enjoy traveling the country to meet young men and women who are often just beginning their coaching careers. This is often their first course and I want to help them in any way to help them have a positive experience, and hopefully they can continue to pursue coaching education. It’s a little bit of a mantra of giving back to the game. I have a summer job on a grass field and in a classroom with people who love soccer, which is a lot of fun.”

Coach Cook taught this summer at academies in New York, Illinois and eastern Massachusetts. Interestingly, he took the same course as a young coach in his early days as a coach at WMA.

“I took that National Diploma course in 1985, and I remember one of my instructors saying ‘coaching is teaching and we’re going to help you become a better teacher of the game,’ and connected to my experience here at the Academy, I’ve always seen the crossover with what I teach in the classroom with what I teach on the field,” he said. “Hopefully I’m making a difference in both areas.”

Coach Cook has been an instructor for the NSCAA for more than 10 years, put onto the path by former WMA Boys’ Soccer Coach Mike Parsons. He said teaching coaches has helped him stay focused on coaching the right way for the Academy.

“Being an instructor and telling coaches that if their teams aren’t doing well, they’re the ones who have to stay the course and be the positive, that’s a reminder to me as well,” he said. "The game is supposed to be fun. We want these coaching candidates to have fun, and, well, I need my kids here at Wilbraham & Monson to enjoy the experience. It helps me not only stay in the moment of what I do, but clearly helps me reflect on how can I do what I do and do it effectively. In that sense, it’s wonderful.”


Gianna Mitchell '17 makes soccer delivery to Haiti

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Gianna Mitchell ’17 is already being recruited by some of the best women’s soccer programs in the country.

Last year, along with being a superstar with her physical ability, she was a superstar with her heart.

For nearly a year, Gianna organized “Two-Six for Kicks,” where she collected used soccer apparel before sending it to an organization in Haiti.

“I thought that I’m so privileged, and there are some people who don’t have any of the privileges I have, so I thought doing this would be a good way to give back,” she said.

And Gianna gave back a lot. Following a connection to Haiti made by former Director of Admission Chris Sparks ’95, and after placing bins throughout the WMA campus and other sites in Greater Springfield, Gianna sent 35 shin guards, 60 pairs of cleats, 80 soccer balls and 202 uniforms to the Life Connection Mission. After the delivery, which was made in the spring, a person at the Life Connection Mission sent photos to Gianna of people wearing what she sent.

“It felt good to see the people wearing the cleats and other items I sent,” Gianna said. Along with WMA, Gianna plays on two teams for the FC Stars, including the club’s elite national team.

John Tierney '15 selected to represent USA in international lax game

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s John Tierney ’15 has earned a rare opportunity for a high school athlete: the chance to represent his country on the playing field.

John was selected to play for Team Stars and Stripes against Team Maple Leafs at the U.S. vs. Canada High School Lacrosse Challenge Cup Sept. 21 at Union College in New York.

John was invited to submit a highlight video, and after the clips were reviewed, he was selected to the Class of 2015 team.

“It was pretty awesome to be picked, and to be able to represent Wilbraham & Monson,” John said. “I’m proud to go and play for the USA. It will be a great experience to play with and against the top players in the Class of 2015. Hopefully we’ll beat Canada. We’ll be the underdog.”

John was contacted in mid-August that he made the team. He’ll receive a new lacrosse helmet, a full uniform, and a USA warm-up jersey.

John is coming off one of the best individual seasons in WMA lax history. He scored 51 goals and matched his school record of 56 assists to help the Titans back to the playoffs.

“I’ve been working hard. It’s been a great journey,” he said. “To see the improvement from the team going 1-13 my freshman year to making the playoffs two years consecutively, that’s a drastic turnaround for the program and it’s special to be on a team like that.”

John had a busy summer of lacrosse. Along with playing on teams on the high school and men’s level, he worked out with faceoff specialist Peter Vlahakis, who holds the Major League Lacrosse record for career faceoff wins.

John has verbally committed to the University of Massachusetts. He can sign with the Minutemen Nov. 12-19 during the early signing period or after April 15.


Matt Naumec '15 qualifies for U.S. Amateur Championship

Matt Naumec ’15 came to Wilbraham & Monson Academy with a reputation as one of the best junior golfers in the country.

This summer, he proved it.

Matt placed second at a U.S. Amateur qualifying event at Torrington Country Club in Goshen, Conn., July 22. This qualified him for the 114th U.S. Amateur Championship, which is the highest level of non-professional golf in the world.

“Entering the tournament in Connecticut, I knew if I played my game I would have a shot at the U.S. Amateur,” Matt said. “But when I qualified I was still shocked because it’s the biggest amateur tournament in the world. Not many people at the age of 17 or going into their senior year of high school can say they qualified for the U.S. Amateur.

“I was really relieved because all of my hard work paid off.”

Connecticut’s qualifier drew players from throughout the country. Any non-professional with a handicap better than a 2.4 could enter.

In a field of 80 players, sporting his WMA golf bag, Matt shot a 3-under par 69 for his first round to put him in second place. He answered with a second round of par 72, making him only one of two players to finish the 36 holes under par.

“Going into the Connecticut tournament I knew I could shoot a good number, so when I got a 69 it felt good to go low,” Matt said. “But I wanted to shoot a good number for the second round because it could be won or lost there.

“When I came in from the second round I knew I had a good number. I thought it was good enough but I just had to wait.”

Matt waited a little more than an hour for all of the golfers’ scores to be recorded before he learned he had earned one of the two berths at the U.S. Amateur. More than 6,800 golfers competed in 97 qualifying events this summer vying for the 312 slots at the U.S. Amateur, which will be held at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga., Aug. 11-17.

“It’s an honor to qualify for this,” Matt said. “I’m just trying to make the cut. I’m going for the experience, and if I make the cut I make the cut.”

WMA’s Jack Dowding ’15 served as Matt’s caddy.

“Having one of my best friends on the bag was great,” Matt said. “Jack kept me calm. He helped me select clubs and read putts. He was a good caddy. It was awesome having him on the bag.”


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