Facebook Twitter Google+ Cook swung his arm over 6-foot-1 Sam Mueller when the Hobart defender tried to force a turnover one more time. Cook raced untouched toward the cage, faked the top left corner and finished bottom right.“If they leave him for a sec and he’s able to slip,” MacLachlan said, “he’s able to go to the crease.” Comments When Brendan Curry’s shot was blocked and bounced toward Colgate’s goalie, Griffin Cook paced backward and scanned the field. Sam Collins cradled the ball from inside his crease and dumped it off to a Raider midfielder, so Cook raced up three steps. As the Raiders attempted to avoid a clearing violation midway through the third quarter on Feb. 7, the strides of Cook’s 5-foot-7 frame mirrored those of his counterpart, who was five inches taller. The pair reached the 40-yard line and Cook swung his stick, whacking Marshall Terres across his body and popping the ball loose. Chase Scanlan ended the scramble sequence with a goal seconds later — one that Colgate head coach Matt Karweck called a staple of old-time Syracuse lacrosse. And it all originated because of Cook’s ride. “Although he’s small in stature and height, he will knock the snot out of you, man,” his uncle, Tom, said.Cook, a Jamesville-DeWitt product, grew up immersed in Syracuse lacrosse and eventually became the type of player the program is known for. Cook’s youth coach and former SU player Gavin MacLachlan said he rides like Mike and Casey Powell, and he creates like Gary and Paul Gait. Syracuse lacrosse connections existed throughout Cook’s life. They were present through his great-grandfather’s National Lacrosse Hall of Fame plaque hanging above his bedroom desk. And continued with preschool student teachers and high school and youth coaches that led him on his path — all with the common denominator of the Orange program.Each shaped Cook on his way to an eventual spot at Syracuse, where he had a one-year hiatus in the midfield before transitioning back to his “natural” spot at X this season. Through five games he’s used a blend of physicality and creativity to contribute five goals and lead the nation’s attack with seven caused turnovers, already making him third-place all-time for most caused turnovers in a season by an attack.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“You see so many guys run through those checks or it’s just a formality getting it across the midfield line, but somehow Griffin finds a way to take one more check and make it work,” Jeff Cook, his other uncle, said.Emily Steinberger | Design EditorCook’s size disadvantage was always present and forced him to account for it. When Cook was 10, Jeff grabbed two dandelions — one white and one yellow — and pulled Cook aside, handing him the yellow one. He told Cook to hide it wherever he wanted, and he’d find it with his “wand.” Jeff turned his back for a dozen seconds and waited.“’Look behind your ear,” Jeff said, waving his wand around the perimeter of Cook’s ear. “Nothing there.”Cook smiled, thinking he had stumped his uncle. “Is it up your nose?” Jeff continued. “No. Open your mouth.” When Cook did, Jeff jammed the white dandelion inside and Cook stumbled backward, caught off guard.Jeff’s prank wasn’t pointless he said. In fact, it’d teach Cook a lesson that Jeff used throughout his lacrosse playing days at Delaware. Cook needed to fool people, mesmerizing them into thinking they knew what move was coming but thrusting a switch at them just when they become comfortable. Unpredictability is a vital concept for every Division-I offensive player but especially someone of Cook’s height.As a kid in his Syracuse neighborhood, Cook suited up in the backyard cages while Ryan Archer and other future Jamesville-DeWitt players peppered shots at him. He was too young to pigeon-hole himself into one position, but Cook still slowly eliminated options. Pole defense was likely out of the question. Short-stick defensive midfielder was just an experiment. But along with attack, Cook latched on to the cage. He couldn’t just sit back and wait for attackmen to shoot, though. They’d pick apart the top corners too easily. Cook would bait his opponents to throw them off-guard and even leave his crease to force a turnover and spark ensuing transition chances.“When we were younger, everyone had to take a turn and I guess just got stuck in there for a few years,” Cook said.Emily Steinberger | Design EditorBefore he earned the opportunity to roam the field for Syracuse, Cook associated with alumni of the program. Ryan’s father was Jamie Archer, Cook’s youth coaches were MacLachlan and Greg Burns — all former Syracuse lacrosse players. And every year, Cook and his family traveled to the Lake Placid Lacrosse Summit tournaments to watch his dad, David, and his uncles from the sidelines.Cook would run onto the field before games and show off split dodges. Any game of two-person catch had the possibility to become three. And slowly, Cook morphed a playing style by watching pros play and complementing his observations with YouTube film sessions.One of Cook’s first introductions to Syracuse lacrosse, though, came when his mother, Karen, earned her master’s degree at Syracuse, and he attended Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory school — a preschool on SU’s South Campus. In Cook’s second year there, Sean Lindsay, then a senior with the SU men’s lacrosse team, was a student teacher, and the two bonded on field trips to Beak and Skiff Apple Orchard and reading sessions with “The Foot Book” by Dr. Seuss. Lindsay befriended the shy kid in the corner with glasses and long hair.After a Syracuse game that spring, Lindsay walked over to the Carrier Dome bleachers and asked David if Cook could come into the locker room. “Sure,” David responded. The two eased Cook over the rail and down to the ground, and he disappeared into the tunnel. Later on, Cook reemerged with autographed programs and memorabilia.Griffin Cook’s student teacher at Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School was Sean Lindsay, then a senior with the SU men’s lacrosse team. Courtesy of Karen Cook“Did I think Griffin was going to grow up and be this amazing player he is to this day from taking him into the locker room? No,” Lindsay said. “But if that planted some type of seed for the passion of the sport of lacrosse, that’s really what it’s all about.”Watching the freedom of Syracuse’s offense inspired Cook to experiment with his own playing style. He used Jeff and Tom as defenders. Other times, he just wrestled for face-offs with them — an occasional task asked of Cook, especially in club games. One year of football crafted the toughness and physicality Cook carried over onto the lacrosse field, Jeff said.Nearly 10 years later, that’s still the foundation for the style of play that allowed Cook to earn the third attack spot out of preseason scrimmages. On Feb. 28, Cook received a pass from Stephen Rehfuss at X and watched as one Hobart defender became two after a slide. He dodged and tried to split the pair, but instead circled back and reset — knocking away a Statesmen stick with his right arm. Published on March 12, 2020 at 12:49 am Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @CraneAndrew
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