As he sat there listening to the introduction of the player who was about to receive the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Lehigh Valley Chapter Scholar-Athlete Award Sunday night at the Northampton Community Center, Aaron Cook of Palmerton never thought it would be him.
"He was announcing all of the great names like Dan Persa who have won the award and I was thinking it wasn't going to be me," said Cook. "Most of the guys there didn't think it was going to be them. Looking at all of the other nominees, it was wide open I guess you could say.
"Then he started to say all of the credentials the person that won had. First he said a class rank of four and then I thought this could be me. Then he said the SAT scores and said mine and I thought it's me. So then I had to start thinking about what I was going to say in front of everybody."
Cook is not only ranked fourth in his class, he was also a mini-Maxwell Club award winner (given to just 60 players in the state), was named to the Colonial League all-star team and TIMES NEWS Area All-Star first team as a linebacker, is a senior class officer and member of the National Honor Society.
One of the big things the committee looks for is the student-athlete's involvement in the community and Cook overwhelmed in that department as well. He helps out in activities such as the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley, Special Olympics, the Palmerton Library, and volunteers to baby sit kids during Parent-Teacher Conferences to name a few.
The Bombers' leading tackler, this season, he finished with 86 (including 56 solo) and had four sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. A tri-captain, he was also honored as Palmerton's co-defensive MVP. On offense he was the Bombers' lead blocker as the fullback but also rushed for 104 yards and had 12 receptions.
Cook is the second Blue Bomber to receive the award in the last four years, following in the footsteps of Matt Falcone in 2009. He is the third award winner in the school's history with the other being quarterback Jesse Rehus.
"When I was in ninth grade and Matt won this, I always wanted to be like him," Cook said. "He always did great in the classroom. I wanted to be exactly like him and get the grades and be someone that everybody liked and be good on the football field and be good academically, too. So it's great to be somebody like him.
"Two kids from Palmerton have now won the award in the last four years. So that's really sweet."
Cook is about 95 percent sure he will be attending Penn State University main campus in the fall. He doesn't plan on playing any sports at PSU, but will probably get involved in a club team.
"Right now my major will be Athletic Trainer, but it will probably stay in the medical field with Kinesiology or something like that," he said.
Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak was thrilled to see Cook win the award to climax a fine career.
"Aaron was like another coach on the field," said Walkowiak. "He started three years at inside linebacker and two years at fullback and he was a player we couldn't afford to get injured just for the fact he knew everything that was going on. He could make the calls in the front, the stunts and the adjustments for us so we needed him on the field."
Walkowiak said that he was surprised at first that Cook won, but after looking over his accomplishments it wasn't hard to see why he was picked.
"He is so we rounded in the community and academically and then with his athletic accomplishments so it's just a great award for Aaron, his family and Palmerton." the coach noted. "What we do, former coach (Paul) McArdle and myself, when we go to this banquet is come home with a program and give it to future kids who are doing well and we think might be our scholar-athletes and show them what the kids are doing that won the award so they know what to shoot for."
Other local scholar-athletes that represented their schools at the banquet were Benjamin Moore of Jim Thorpe, Zachary Coleman of Lehighton, Kirk Bender of Northern Lehigh, Kyle Klase of Northwestern and Rob Getz of Pleasant Valley.