New boys varsity soccer coach Danny Cook shares aspirations for the season


Sophia Bateman

New varsity boys soccer coach Danny Cook instructs players from the sidelines at the International School of Brussels Oct. 16. The team won against the International School of Brussels.

Sophia Bateman, Media Team

This year, Danny Cook assumed the position of boys’ varsity soccer coach. Amid his first year as varsity coach, Cook shares his experience and engagement with the team.

Cook has coached at the school since 2017, training with the Middle School and High School JJV and JV soccer teams in addition to serving as the assistant varsity soccer coach. Outside of the fall season, Cook has worked with JV boys’ basketball and tennis.

Having played soccer as a teenager, Cook said he was introduced to coaching when he was unable to play due to illness. Cook said his physical education teacher encouraged him to coach instead, and thus, he managed his class football team.

“It was more just to stay in the game and give something back to others,” Cook said. 

In addition to coaching at the school, Cook said he has managed the club team Kinja FC but stepped away this year to focus on ASL. Cook has also helped train Wembley FC, a non-league team that plays Football Association Cup games. With fans on the sidelines, Cook said there is a lot of pressure to be results-focused. 

Danny Cook stepped in as the varsity boys soccer coach for the 2022-23 school year. (Photo courtesy of Danny Cook)

Cook said becoming a varsity coach had been a “long-term goal,” and was a “no-brainer” acceptance when he received the offer. 

“I’m not just a varsity coach,” Cook said. “I’m propping up the program, looking after all the boy’s side of things and also having an influence on the girls’ side.”

Cook said he has a “clear objective” of creating cohesion within the soccer program. 

“Some steps we’ve taken in terms of connecting is having some of the seventh graders coming in and training a little with the varsity players, just to create that sort of experience and buzz around the program,” Cook said. “For us, it’s like, can we create a bit of buzz? Can we challenge the players to leave a positive legacy behind?” 

In addition, Cook said he aspires to develop and improve the players both skill-wise and as people.

Despite experience coaching a variety of teams, Cook said the connection he has made with the boys’ varsity team is unmatched. 

“I don’t think two to three weeks into a season I’ve ever been so invested in a group of players,” Cook said. “They are so energetic and have so much camaraderie. They’re just together and they’ve created a nice environment for themselves and for us as coaches.” 

Moreover, Cook said transitioning from training the JV team three times a week to training the varsity team four times a week has had a significant impact on his connection with the team because of the increased contact time with players. 

“I’ve really appreciated and valued that extra day to work with players,” Cook said. 

I’m propping up the program, looking after all the boy’s side of things and also having an influence on the girls’ side.”

In terms of achievement so far, Cook said the team is “playing well” and continuing to develop team dynamics.

“There’s definitely elements we need to improve,” Cook said. “But, for how we want to play, it will take time, so they need the opportunity to digest all the information and then just go and execute it and trust each other.” 

Cook said the players’ devotion to the team has been “fantastic.”  

“They fight for each other and in the training sessions they put in 100%,” Cook said. “The whole dynamic they’ve created will give them success.” 

Further, Cook said the highlights of the season have been trips out of the country because it strengthens the bonds between players “on and off the pitch.” 

“We had a trip away to The Hague, which was brilliant,” Cook said. “It was fantastic to take the JV boys and varsity boys on one trip together, and the bonding that happened between JV and varsity was amazing, which goes back to the objectives in terms of connecting the program.” 

Cook said one of the changes made this year was entering the varsity boys team into the ISFA Cup, an under-18 age category independent schools competition. Cook said this cup has given them the opportunity to play schools they would not normally play in the season. 

Cook said another addition to the program has been positional workshops to mix the varsity team with other High School teams.

“We’ve tried positional workshops where we brought the program together and split High School teams,” Cook said. “For example, we’ll have forwards go work together, so whether you’re on varsity or whether you’re on JV, you’re all working together, and the same goes with keepers and defenders.” 

They are so energetic and have so much camaraderie. They’re just together and they’ve created a nice environment for themselves and for us as coaches.”

Cook said he is particularly excited to see how all the teams will play and looks forward to seeing what the team achieves at the International School Sports Tournament. 

Cook said he is dreading the end of the season. 

“For me to be invested in a group three or four weeks into the season and feel as strongly as I do about that group, I just don’t want the season to finish,” Cook said.

Ultimately, Cook said he is eager to continue developing the soccer program. 

“The other varsity coaches before have left the program in a really, really good state, so I’m very fortunate to come in at this time,” Cook said. “Now it’s just a case of building on what those guys have done.”