Playing high school basketball can be tough. It’s even tougher when you have to watch what you eat in fear of gaining too much weight.
That’s the hardest part of getting through the season for Franklin County standout Rebecca Cook, the leading rebounder and second-leading scorer for the three-time defending girls’ 11th Region champions. She’s also a fashion model. When she’s not crashing the boards or firing away three-pointers — as she’s doing for the Flyers in this week’s Sweet Sixteen — Cook might be found confidently strutting down a runway modeling the latest dress from Vera Wang or posing for a photo shoot.
Cook, a 5-foot-11 senior, was discovered at a mall when she was 15 years old when AMAX Talent, a modeling agency based in Nashville, approached her about entering a talent-search contest. She initially shied away from the idea but after discussing it with her mom, decided to go for it.
Since taking that leap, Cook has modeled in shows as part of two Nashville Fashion Weeks and one New York Fashion Week, and has gotten to meet Nigel Barker, a former judge on “America’s Next Top Model.”
Body maintenance is a constant concern for most models, but Cook’s awareness of her frame is even more acute as she fights with the conflicting demands of her chosen realms.
“In basketball, coaches are constantly telling me, ‘You need to bulk up, you need to put on weight, eat as much as you can,’” Cook said. “Then modeling it’s like, ‘Oh no, don’t eat that.’ So it’s kind of like being pulled in two different directions. I try to stay healthy and just balance it as best as I can.
“For modeling they would like me to be a little bit smaller and for basketball they would like me to be a little bit bigger, so it’s just kind of finding a balance of that.”
Might Cook follow a similar career path as former Assumption and University of Louisville volleyball star Katie George, who won Miss Kentucky USA in 2015 and now works as a sports reporter for WDRB in Louisville? For the last two seasons Cook has served as an intern for PrepSpin, a local broadcasting company that specializes in the streaming of high school sporting events.
“Ultimately that’s what I would like to do as a career,” said Cook, who will major in broadcast journalism.
Cook hasn’t yet decided if she wants to play basketball in college but is leaving open the possibility. She wants to continue pursuing her options in modeling, too.
“My advice would just be is you don’t have to be a tomboy to play basketball,” Cook said. “A lot of people get the idea in their head that, ‘Oh, you can’t be girly and play basketball,’ but that’s just not true. I feel like I play hard and I go out there and I’m aggressive. So you don’t have to necessarily be a certain ‘type’ of person.
“Just keep all your options open if you’re pursuing both of these things. See where they take you, don’t only choose one when you’re so young, because they could all open different doors for you in the future.”