Carroll Cookson: A coach for the ages

cooksonI didn’t handle stress well in high school.

So before every one of my basketball games as a senior, my stress ended up as chunks of supper deposited into a locker room toilet.

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Coach Carroll Cookson had that effect on people.

Cookson demanded success because he had been around it all his life.

At Puxico High School, Cookson played under Arnold Ryan, who produced some of the best teams in Missouri history. From 1948-1956, Puxico captured two consecutive Class B state titles (1951-1952), reached the semifinals four times and made six trips to the state basketball tournament.

Ryan’s 1951 championship team went 40-0, scoring at least 100 points 13 times. Most incredibly, five players from that squad went on to play Division 1 college basketball.

Cookson took those pressing and running tools he learned from Ryan and quickly built a powerhouse at Advance High Schools in the 1970s.

Early that decade, AHS went to four consecutive Finals Fours, claiming two state titles and a second place finish. Its record over that span was 110-21.

Today, officials will dedicate the AHS gymnasium floor to Cookson and former volleyball coach Mildred Wiggins, who was his contemporary. For years, they shared the same hardwood floor, creating a standard for excellence that hasn’t been repeated.

Between the pair, they won nearly 900 games.

The honors are long overdue but nonetheless appreciated by the people whose lives they touched.




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