Kelly Cook, a former standout Patriot League student-athlete herself, was named head women’s soccer coach at Bucknell on March 24, 2015. In just her second year as a head coach, she helped the Bison return to championship glory.
Cook has wasted little time impacting the Bison program in her first two seasons in Lewisburg. In her very first season as a head coach in 2015, she guided the team to a 6-1-2 Patriot League record (11-6-3 overall), a first-round bye in the Patriot League Tournament and an appearance in the championship game for the first time since 2007. The Bison set team records for shutouts (11), consecutive shutouts (6) and scoreless minutes (655:03) while going unbeaten in eight-straight contests.
Cook was named Patriot League Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year in 2015, becoming the first Bucknell coach to receive the award since 2001. She also coached six players voted onto All-Patriot League teams.
The Bison fared even better in 2017, setting a school victory record while finishing 16-2-2 overall and 8-1-0 in the Patriot League. Bucknell captured its third league title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 after winning a thrilling overtime game against Boston University in the PL Championship at Emmitt Field. The Bison placed a league-high eight players on All-Patriot League Teams, while claiming three major awards, including Cook earning Patriot League Coach of the Year honors for the second straight season.
In addition to getting it done on the pitch, the Bison also excelled in the classroom. Under Cook's guidance, the Bison placed three players on CoSIDA All-District and Academic All-Patriot League Teams, while two student-athletes -- Kendall Ham and Alexis Gannon -- were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
One of Cook's key performers in 2017 was Ham, who became the program's very first All-American. Ham was also the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year after piling up 15 goals.
Following the season, Cook and assistants David Madsen and Leigh Howard were named NSCAA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
A 2006 graduate of Colgate University, Cook entered the coaching ranks at Amherst College, where she spent three years as an assistant coach with a nationally ranked Division III program. In 2010 she moved on to Dartmouth, and over the last five years with the Big Green she coached 26 All-Ivy League players and five NSCAA All-Region honorees. Dartmouth finished in second place in the competitive Ivy League in three of her five years there, and the team posted a 40-34-9 record during her tenure, including a 29-15-7 mark over the last three seasons. The 2012 team fell one shy of the school record for wins in a season with 13, and last year’s Big Green squad finished 8-5-4 overall and 3-1-3 in the Ivy League, just missing out on the conference title in a race that came down to the final day of the season.
In addition to her on-field coaching duties at Dartmouth, Cook also served as the team’s recruiting coordinator, and she was involved with the program’s fundraising and alumni functions. Those efforts helped lead to an overseas trip to England and Scotland in June 2013.
While at Dartmouth, Cook served as assistant director of Elite Soccer Camps of New England. From 2008-13 she was an Olympic Development Program (ODP) coach in New Hampshire, and during her tenure at Amherst she was assistant director of AWS Elite Soccer Academy.
A native of Warners, New York, near Syracuse, Cook is no stranger to the Patriot League. She was a two-year captain and three-time Second Team All-Patriot League selection at Colgate, where she recorded 27 goals and 23 assists in her career. She ranked in the top 10 in program history in career points (77) and assists. As a junior in 2004, Cook was named Patriot League Tournament MVP after leading the Raiders to the league title, and then her team knocked off Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, marking the first NCAA win in school and league history.
At Colgate, Cook was a two-time Patriot League Academic Honor Roll member, and she earned the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. She also spent time playing in the W-League with the Rochester Rhinos and the Western Mass Pioneers. In 2010 she earned a master’s in education degree in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts.
“I would like to thank John Hardt, Maisha Kelly and the wonderful people I met during the hiring process at Bucknell,” said Cook at the time of her hiring. “I was so impressed with the Bucknell athletic department, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to join them. I am extremely excited about the opportunity to lead the Bucknell women’s soccer team. I believe Bucknell is the perfect fit for me professionally and personally. I value the student-athlete experience and the mission of Bucknell and the Patriot League. I look forward to meeting the student-athletes and getting to work. Finally, I would like to thank head coach Ron Rainey and the Dartmouth athletic administration for their support during my time at Dartmouth.”
“I am excited to welcome Coach Kuss to the Bucknell Athletics family,” said director of athletics and recreation John Hardt at the time of her hiring. “As a former Patriot League student-athlete herself, and then as a coach at two academically rigorous institutions in Dartmouth and Amherst, Kelly knows first-hand what it takes to manage the challenges of being a student-athlete at an institution like Bucknell. I am confident that experience and leadership will be immediate assets to the program, and that the women’s soccer team will continue to challenge for Patriot League titles on a regular basis.”
Cook resides in Lewisburg with her husband Andrew.