With the time looking perfectly right for Gail Hook to retire from her teaching post at Monarch High School, the veteran coach began to wonder when she might be able to relinquish control of the Coyotes’ girls basketball program.
It turned out, there was no better time than now on all fronts for Hook.
This week the highly-decorated girls basketball coach announced she will be retiring from Monarch as a teacher as well as a coach, leaving a giant void from a Coyotes program that has evolved into one of Class 5A’s most consistent winners under Hook’s guidance.
“I think you always come to a point in your life where you wonder if there is something else out there,” Hook said. “I’m in a good position to retire from teaching, and teaching and coaching are both full-time jobs. I asked myself if I’ve done everything in the coaching profession that I set out to do. And I feel like I have. I feel like it’s a good time for change for both me and the program.”
Hook is the only girls basketball coach Monarch has ever known, taking over the then-new program for the 1998-99 season following a similarly decorated seven-year run at Centaurus.
Over the course of 24 overall seasons as a head coach, Hook has compiled a lengthy and impressive resume. Her career mark of 432-167 includes 10 conference championships, 16 Sweet 16 bids, 12 Elite 8 appearances, eight Final Four squads and four appearances in the state championship game.
Hook won her lone state title at Centaurus in 1991. Though the Coyotes were a perennial contender during Hook’s tenure, she led Monarch to the title game just twice, losing to Regis Jesuit in 2009 and a heartbreaker to Front Range League rival Legacy in the 2012 finale.
During her 17 years at Monarch (including a one-year hiatus she took during the 2012-13 season) Hook cited that setback as the biggest disappointment of her tenure.
“When we walked off that court against Legacy, there was a sick feeling in my gut,” Hook said. “I thought that was our year to win it. I thought we had all the parts. That took a while to get over. That’s one regret I have at Monarch — that we didn’t get that state championship for the program.”
Nevertheless, Hook managed to go out on top, compiling a 24-3 mark this past season and recording the last of her eight Final Four appearances.
Hook’s departure continues a stunning exodus of veteran coaches from the Boulder Valley School District this spring. Her girls basketball contemporary at Broomfield, Mike Croell, retired after winning his sixth state title at the end of his 20th season. The list also includes Fairview’s Frank Lee, who is stepping aside after 18 years as the Knights’ boys basketball head coach and 14 years as the school’s athletic director; Stan Jozwiak, who started the Fairview boys soccer program 35 years ago; and Ken Ebersole, who was a young coach alongside Hook when he first started coaching the Centaurus boys soccer team 28 years ago.
Hook doesn’t know exactly what is next on the horizon. She has coaching experience at both the national and professional level to her credit, and she also mentioned indulging in passions such as gardening and landscaping, volunteer work, and traveling.
“With (Ebersole), we started our careers together,” Hook said. “And like some of the things I saw (Croell) say, when you put your heart and soul into a program, there really is no good time to leave.
“I felt we exceeded expectations this past year. It was just a good time to go.”
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