The Cook name is no stranger to the Spider Baseball program. This time the face my look familiar, but it’ll be Justin Cook you see on the diamond wearing the red and blue.
Cook is the younger brother of former Spider standout Ryan Cook (2012-15). Cook received numerous accolades during his career with Richmond, and following his senior season signed a free agent deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
With your older brother having a very successful four years on the diamond, there’s probably very little question on where to play college ball. Cook was no exception as his older brother Ryan played major role in his decision to be a Spider.
“He had a big influence on my decision,” Cook said. “That was my first exposure to college baseball. The first thing he said when he came back home was how much he loved it. The first time that I visited for a camp there was an attraction about it that gave me this feeling that I could see myself going here.”
Even though Cook was familiar with the Spiders program, he knew he had a lot of work to do on the field.
“Once I committed I had to work ten times harder. I knew everyone was going to be waiting for Cookie’s little brother to show up on the field,” he said. “I knew I had to work harder and get to that next level whether that’s the mental or physical side. I had to be prepared because high school to college is a big jump, and I knew the guys weren’t going to let a freshman out play them. My brother has a competitive nature about him and he told me to be ready because it’s a whole other level.”
Cook experienced first hand that competitive nature in Division I baseball he always heard about during the Spiders’ Blue-Red Series.
“You could see the competitiveness this fall. Knowing players and Spiders teams from previous years, there’s always been set positions, but this fall was completely different. The freshmen class was competing for positions all over the field – no one had a set spot and everyone was battling for a position.”
Along with a familiar program, Cook had the opportunity to have a familiar face as he started his career with the Spiders. Graduate student Jonathan de Marte and Cook’s older brother, Ryan played together and became good friends. After being plagued with injuries throughout his career, de Marte was granted his sixth year and will finish out his final season with the Spiders this spring.
“I love it. The first time I met Jon was when I was in eighth grade and now I’m playing with him. It’s definitely weird,” he laughed. “I’ve always had my brother with me growing up. He was always there when I had questions and to ask for advice and lean me the way I need to go, and Jon has been that brother for me. He has definitely taken me under his wing.”
The Virginia Beach native will also have his number one fans at a lot of his games this year.
“My parents are already talking about doing tailgates before home games and getting all the parents together,” Cook said.
Cook and the Spiders open the 2017 season with defending national champion, Coastal Carolina, on February 17.
“I’m excited to experience college baseball from my point of view,” Cook said. “I’m also excited to learn from all the veterans we have on the team, and being exposed to the game play, the speed and the tempo. The pitching staff and the athleticism that we have this year we could go a lot further than we ever have.”