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Underclassman Rises to Leader on Varsity Soccer

Sports and the unfailing love of God: these two don’t always seem to overlap, but for Michael Cook, that’s all he cares to achieve as a competing EC Eagle.

“Being on a soccer team is pretty much like a family,” he says. “It’s not just one guy who can do it all, but…everyone has a role on the team and everyone brings something new to the table. Even if guys don’t play or sit on the bench, we’re still all supportive and we do the best we can to play hard and glorify God.”

Michael Cook in a game against Hawthorne Public

Michael Cook, sophomore and right defender on the Boys’ Varsity Soccer team, shares his experience at Eastern Christian and what it’s like being a believer on the soccer field.

Michael has attended EC since preschool and currently worships at Unity Christian Reformed Church in Prospect Park with his family. He always looks for opportunities to serve, whether it’s in his church, school, or community, and he loves being a part of extracurricular activities like band, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer.

Starting as a young athlete, Michael has been on a soccer team since he was in kindergarten for his town and then switched to play for school in sixth grade. Since high school, he has been a varsity player for two seasons and continues to take pride in his team.

Michael is a right defender and leader on the team. “I feel like I get a lot of respect and I value that because I like to take leadership and hold my teammates accountable so they can be the best person that they can be,” he says.

Sophomore Jonathan Dykman, Michael’s lifelong friend says that “as a lefty, he counteracts a righty so a lot of times he’ll either win or lose, but he knows how far to go when he plays defense. When he has momentum with a soccer ball he’ll go up with it and play some offense and then drop back. [the team] relies on him a lot.”

Michael especially likes that the EC teams think differently than others because the other teams “are playing for other guys and are playing for themselves or their family, their coach, or their fans. I like to think that at Eastern Christian, we play solely to glorify God.”

Jonathan says that one of his favorite parts about Michael is his joyfulness and encouragement. “Sometimes when we’re on the field,” Jonathan says, “he’ll tell me a Bible verse and then we’ll just talk about it very briefly. When one of us makes a mistake, he’ll say a Bible verse and then he’ll explain it, reflecting on the moment.”

Michael Cook and Senior Michael Steiginga in a game against Hawthorne Christian Academy

Michael’s ability to strive for what he wants and determination to play for the Lord has given him a position of leadership on the team. He says that being a leader as an underclassman “gives me a little bit of responsibility, and I feel like it holds me to a standard that what I do affects the team as we are so united as a family. I feel like it really helps me to better myself.”

Michael loves being on a team with such a strong bond. He says that community is one of the most important things a team could have, and he really values it in school life too.

He notices that the diversity of people in our school is what binds us together. “I think that has really helped us be more of a family community in accepting everyone because Jesus accepts everyone too,” he says. “I feel like because we base our values on Biblical truth, that has really helped our school.”

Outside of the school team, Michael does a lot of other activities. He’s currently in the process of earning scholarships to play lacrosse in college.

“What I’ve been doing is going to these things called showcases,” he said. “We’re put on a team with a bunch of guys that we don’t know…with other college coaches watching. So then we just play and we show these guys what we can do.”

He looks forward to playing soccer after high school, hopefully on an intramural team. Michael likes to play sports outside of school with his friends at Goffle Brook Park, hit the gym and go for runs, play video games and go fishing. He also enjoys spending time at his lake house in upstate New York.

While doing all of these activities, Michael says it’s not too difficult to manage everything going on. He especially appreciates that teachers in high school are more flexible and are willing to help outside of class time if he needs.

In the end, Michael finds God at the center of all he does. He’s thankful for the Christian community at EC to help him grow in his relationship with God. “I feel like if I didn’t go to EC, then I would be less equipped to leave, to go out and stand strong in my faith,” he says. “Eastern Christian has really helped me be more bold.”

As best said by Jonathan, “I admire his leadership for sports and his ability to get things done when he needs to. He’s very efficient and he knows how to take charge when something is wrong. He’s just very joyful.”


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