What’s worse for the Lady Grizzlies’ opponents is that senior center Emma Cook, Creekview’s leading scorer, is set to return to action sometime next week after missing the team’s last four games due to a case of mononucleosis.
Just after school let out for winter break, Cook began to feel drained and tired, which she attributed to the late nights she had studying for final exams.
Rather than recover in her time off from school, Cook’s condition began to worsen, and the seriousness of her illness became apparent in Creekview’s opening-round game of the Deep South Classic against Harrison on Dec. 27.
After taking the court for only a few minutes of the first quarter, Cook was forced to leave the game for good due to her weakened physical condition.
“I felt just terrible,” she said.
“When Emma went out in the Deep South Classic, I had no idea that we would still be able to win it,” said Creekview coach Roger Nolan, whose squad defeated North Oconee in the tournament’s final. “With her being out, everyone really had to step up.”
At a doctor’s visit a few days after the tournament, Cook was diagnosed with mono.
Now, with Cook’s return to action, the Lady Grizzlies will see the return of not only one of their best players, but one of the most dedicated.
When first told that she had mono, Cook said she felt more concerned with how much time on the court she would miss rather than how sick she actually was.
“When I found out I had mono, I didn’t get upset because I was sick, necessarily, I just thought to myself, ‘Now I can’t play basketball,’” Cook said. “It’s been rough not being able to play.”
Though unable to play, Cook nevertheless attended almost every game to cheer her teammates on. For those games Cook was too sick to attend, her mother filmed them so she could take notes later.
“Games take on a different perspective when you are just sitting there and watching them,” Cook said. “It got me to thinking about what I can do to help out my team. When I go to the games, I just try to help the girls out any way I can.”
Cook continued to stay heavily involved with the team while she was sick, but with school itself as well.
“I really don’t like missing class,” said Cook, who has a 3.7 grade-point average and takes an Advanced Placement statistics class. “I always try to do well in school, and I think it translates onto the court.”
Nolan was quick to commend Cook’s commitment to both the team and her school work.
“If I was sick with mono, I think I would be finding a way out of class,” Nolan said. “Even when she’s healthy, I’ve always been amazed that somebody like her would rather be in a gym on Friday and Saturday nights than being out. She’s dedicated.”
With her conditioning improving, Cook said she will visit a doctor today in the hopes of being cleared to play against region leader Osborne next Friday.
Regardless of the doctor’s decision, Cook plans on taking the court — sick or not.
“I know for a fact that I’m going to play against Osborne,” Cook said. “Just because I want to.”
For Nolan, Cook’s determination to play comes as good news.
“I can’t really put a number on it, but she is very valuable to us,” Nolan said. “We are really missing her.”