Barnesville’s Cook selected athletic director at Martins Ferry High School

MARTINS FERRY — Mark Cook admits that he was more than happy and comfortable working as the director of athletics at Barnesville.

Who could blame him? He’d been in the school district and lived in the community since the mid 80s, spending the last 20 as the Shamrocks’ A.D.

However, his two daughters — Bethany Lucas and Brittany Reasbeck — and their families live in the Martins Ferry School district. Taking it a few steps farther, both of Cook’s daughters are employees of the Martins Ferry School District, his son-in-law Anthony Reasbeck teaches and coaches in the district, his son-in-law Ryan Lucas is a member of the Martins Ferry Hall of Fame and coaches youth sports in the community where Cook’s grandchildren Maddie (10) and Max Lucas (7) participate.

So, when the Purple Riders’ Director of Athletics position came open after Kim Appolloni resigned from the position, Cook became curious. After some “encouragement” from his son in laws to explore the job a litte closer, Cook decided to apply.

As they say, the rest is history.

“My family played a huge role in this (decision),” Cook said. “I will admit, at this point in my career, it was tough, but it’s good, too. My wife (Melanie) and I had a long-term plan to move (into the Martins Ferry school district) to be closer to our family. It just happened sooner than later. It’s a great thing.”

Cook was formally approved by the Martins Ferry Board of Education last week and actually began the transition process this week.

He spent a couple of days working in his new office and attended the Buckeye 8 League meeting on Wednesday.

“It’s definitely a transition,” Cook said. “I appreciate the cooperation I’ve received from (Superintendent) Jim Fogle, (Principal) Joe Mamone and (assistant athletics director) John Bennett. They’ve all been very helpful.”

He’s contracted at Barnesville through July 31, so he’s pulling double duty.

Cook isn’t looking to make wholesale changes at Martins Ferry. He want to do his part to help alleviate as many burdens from the coaches as he can, which has always been one of his main goals as an athletic administrator.

“I want to be a support person and be there for our coaches,” Cook said. “I know I don’t do the Xs and Os or deals with the Johnnys and Joes, but I hope, in my capacity, I am lighten some of the other areas for them and lessen their responsibilities.”

Speaking of his coaches, Cook will be leading a staff that has had some turnover of late. The Purple Riders have already hired a new volleyball coach, Dave Reasbeck is back for his second tour of duty as the girls’ basketball coach and the softball job just came open at the same board meeting at which Cook was hired.

Cook hasn’t had the chance to meet with his staff collectively, but has met on an individual basis with some of the coaches.

Cook wants to see Martins Ferry athletics continue the fine tradition that’s been established. “I am intrigued by things at Martins Ferry,” Cook said. “I am looking forward to Friday night football at the Dave Bruney Football Complex, I think Ferry has beautiful facilities and good people, who I am very comfortable around.”

One thing that Cook does hope to increase is Martins Ferry’s athletic visibility in the Eastern District. A former site manager for the Eastern District Athletic Board, Cook hopes to see Martins Ferry host more post-season events like it did this winter when the Tolbert Gymnasium welcomed a Division IV girls basketball district semifinal.

“I would like to see our schools and facilities have more availability to host post-season games, including football tournament games,” Cook admitted. “The facilities are top notch and I think it would be great to be able to show other people the good things we have.”

One of the most challenging tasks of this entire process was when Cook had to inform Barnesville and Superintendent Angela Hannahs of his decision to accept the post at Martins Ferry.

“I am leaving a very good situation (in Barnesville),” Cook said. “I owe a lot to our superintendent and I am very appreciative of the support I’ve had in Barnesville over the years.”

Cook arrived in Barnesville after a short stint at St. John Central in the 1984-85 school year after accepting a teaching position as well as the head boys basketball coaching job. He held the coaching post until 1990, but returned for a second tour of duty in 1996 and remained until 1999.

It was in 1999 when he was offered the athletics director position.

“Barnesville is a very good school and it’s a great community,” Cook said.

During his 20-year run as the Shamrocks’ A.D., Cook was instrumental in helping to upgrade facilities. Included was the remodeling of all of the gymnasiums in the school district, the construction of a new press box and fieldhouse at Shamrock Stadium, refurbishing the track and installing sod and sprinklers at the football stadium.

“As an athletic department, I believe we achieved a lot at Barnesville,” Cook said. “I think the facilities at Barnesville are something the school, community and the kids can all be very proud of. I feel good that (the athletic department) is being left in good shape.”

While Cook was the A.D., he pointed out that many people and groups played a key role in those projects. He mentioned the consistent support of the community and parent groups as well as the formation of the Goal Liners, which has helped to generate the funds necessary for the stadium improvements.

“I believe that with those groups still heavily involved, everything will continue to run as smoothly as they have in the past,” Cook said.

For Cook, the return to Martins Ferry is — in essence — bringing his life full circle.

He was born in Martins Ferry and lived there for the first seven years of his life before his family moved to Shadyside.

Cook went to St. John Central and graduated in 1975. He then went to Bethany College where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He completed his master’s degree in educational administration in 1992 at the University of Dayton.

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