Scranton assistant named Alvernia head coach

More news about: Alvernia
Sheila Cook played at Muhlenberg, was a grad assistant at Wilkes and an assistant coach at Scranton.
Alvernia athletics photo illustration

Alvernia athletic director Bill Stiles announced the hiring of Sheila Cook as head women's basketball coach at a news conference Thursday held at the Physical Education Center.

"We are thrilled to announce the hiring of Sheila Cook as head coach of women's basketball here at Alvernia," said Stiles. "Sheila has experienced success at the highest level in our region and our division. She was mentored by arguably the best coach in the history of Division III. Her passion and enthusiasm for the academic and athletic success of our program were extremely evident in the short time we have spent with her, and we are excited for her to get to work."

Cook replaces interim coach Jen Sawyer, who replaced longtime coach Kevin Calabria shortly before this past season. The Crusaders were 8-17 for the second cosnecutive season. 

Cook takes over a program that made 21 postseason appearances in 26 years. The Crusaders graduate all-conference performer and Middle Atlantic Conference scholar athlete Kaitlyn Yoh, but return six of the top eight scorers from a season ago including leading scorer and all-conference honorable mention center Tyra Roberts.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to be the head coach here at Alvernia and build upon the success of the program," said Cook. "I've had a chance to meet with the players and we're eager to get started."

Cook was a starting forward at Muhlenberg where she graduated eighth in career scoring with 974 points, and led the Mules to four NCAA Tournament appearances — advancing to the Sweet 16 twice.

She graduated from Muhlenberg with a B.A. in English with a secondary education certification. She pursued a masters in education and spent two years as a graduate assistant at Wilkes. She served a year as the first assistant for legendary Scranton head coach Mike Strong, the winningest head coach in Division III basketball history.

"I'm thrilled for Sheila to have this opportunity," said Strong. "She will be a tremendous fit for Alvernia. She is wonderful to work with. The players will be very happy playing for her. It's a win-win situation."

As a player at Muhlenberg, Cook was a member of four Centennial Conference champions, including the conference's first ever undefeated team when the 2008-09 team finished with an 18-0 conference record. The Mules posted a record of 91-23 in Cook's four years.

In her first year as assistant coach at Scranton, the Royals finished 26-4. Prior to the 2014-15 season, Strong retired, elevating Cook's responsibilities as the only full-time women's basketball staff member on campus. She and interim head coach Deanna Klingman continued the Scranton legacy, posting a 24-4 mark, returning the Royals to the NCAA Tournament.

The Crusaders are scheduled to tip off the 2015-16 schedule on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at Misericordia. The Commonwealth schedule starts at Lycoming on Wednesday, Dec. 2.