Digging sports and academics

The game that senior middle blocker Ariell Cooke plays while on the court describes her personality off the court perfectly.

Cooke is one of the most consistent players on the court; she doesn’t take a lot of risks, and she attacks with pure power but blocks with everything to defend her teammates and the scoreboard.

A California native, Cooke knew what she liked from an early age and never questioned how or why she liked mathematics and architecture so young.

Whether in the classroom or on the court, Cooke was never influenced by others’ thoughts or views. Cooke does anything and everything she can to always be where she needs to be.

Whenever the ball comes screaming across the net from opponents, you can bet Cooke will slap a piece of it at the least.

“Ariell is really stepping up her game and his a big part of our team,” sair junior outside hitter Christine Williamson during a WVUM post-game inteview.

But off the court she holds a cumulative 3.0 GPA in UM’s renowned School of Architecture. Choosing architecture as a major was undoubtedly the best decision for her; both her parents are engineers, math is a bona fide hobby and she never backs down to challenges.

But what really sealed the deal for Cooke was a fifth grade camp at Juliet Morgan’s summer architecture program. Cooke was assigned to sketch her parents’ dream home and she fell in love with the practice.

“I really liked interiors and kitchens, which is kind of odd for a kid,” Cooke said. “I was always into arts and I liked math, so I just figured why not architecture?”

Even though Cooke is a student-athlete, which takes most of her time, she still seeks out fun and enjoyment from a wide array of places.

In her off time, Cooke loves movies, going to plays, attending on-campus events and watching other sports like basketball and football. When Cooke laces up her volleyball shoes and warms up, she listens to everything from hip-hop to Christian rap while getting ready for a match.

“[Ariell] is a great person,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “She is all about putting the team first and she worked really hard during her career and it’s great to see her emerging as a confident exceptional player in her senior year.”

Because she is in the architecture program, she will be on campus next season for her fifth year at UM. After this season, however, Cooke feels like she is ready to be done playing volleyball competitively once her last goal is complete: the Olympics.

She plans on assisting the team next year, but her highlight will be trying out for the U.S. volleyball Olympic team.

“I tried out my freshman year and didn’t make it,” Cooke said. “Senior year you can ask the school to try out; I think I will do it again.”

Cooke is always looking ahead whether she is on the volleyball court or working on schoolwork or any other aspect of life. After she graduates it would be a safe bet to count on her success and hard work taking her even further than she has gone so far.

Rico Dominguez may be contacted at rdominguez@themiamihurricane.com.