Boys basketball: Gail Hook will add another chapter to storied career at Erie

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Longtime area basketball coach Gail Hook will get her first opportunity for work for a boys program in Colorado after being hired by Erie on Sunday.

Longtime basketball coach Gail Hook leaves a lasting mark on every program she joins — and in the case of this past season at Monarch, she even returns and does restoration.

Adding another chapter to her storied legacy, Hook came back to the program she built from 1998-2015 and resurrected the Coyotes from a four-game winner in 2017-18 to a team that went 14-10 and touted the player of the year in Emerson Herrmann.

The days following, Hook re-examined her career and what more there was left to accomplish. In Florida — where she lives part of the year — she found enjoyment in helping work with the local boys basketball team at Dunedin. So when she saw the opening for the Erie boys basketball job, the proposition of teaching at the level where the game is played quicker and with more physicality was something she couldn’t pass on.

“I’ve always had it in the back of my mind what it would be like to coach on the boys side,” Hook said. “When I reevaluated myself this year at the end of the season, I thought to myself I don’t know how much longer I’m going to coach. If I’m going to do it, now is the time to pursue it.”

The Erie athletics department announced the hire in an email to media outlets on Sunday and also posted the hire on Twitter, complete with a small bio.

Her lengthy list of accomplishments includes 446 wins in Colorado, 10 league titles, eight Final Four bids, four championship appearances and the state title she won in 1991 at Centaurus.

She’s also coached with USA Basketball and served as an assistant in the WNBA and at Purdue when the team reached the Elite Eight.

“Basketball is basketball and she is overly qualified,” Erie athletic director Justin Carpenter said. “She is fiercely competitive, and she’s coached in big games, and she’s coached in games we aspire to be in.”

Hook joins a short list of female coaches around the country that currently lead high school boys programs. And while her decision to apply for the Erie job didn’t revolve around the dramatic contrast of females coaching male programs versus men coaching female programs, she was adamant in her hopes that things will shift in that regard, starting up top in the hiring process.

“It’d be nice to see more representation of females in administrative roles that do the hiring and can seek out qualified women for those positions,” she said.

In finding the next Erie boys basketball coach, both Hook and Carpenter stressed the importance of qualifications over anything else.

“I was really impressed with Justin, the AD at Erie, because he never mentioned gender to me at all,” Hook said. “He stuck to simply the qualifications of the job and that I fulfilled the qualifications of the job. And so I thought that was a big bonus in terms of feeling comfortable in making that transition.”

Carpenter said her resume speaks for itself.

“This was 125 percent a basketball move,” Carpenter said. “And I think if we make it anything more than just basketball it kind of does a disservice to coach Hook and what she’s done, and kind of to our kids as well. Our kids deserve the best coach and I feel like we got that.”

Erie went 35-61 in four years under Scott Melin, including 10-14 this past winter. The team did make the playoffs three of the four years he guided the program.

The team could have plenty of exciting returning talent, including sophomores Kevin Loy and Jordan Nguyen. Loy averaged 16.4 points and Nguyen put up 9.3 for the Tigers, who could return eight of their nine top scorers from 2018-19.

Hook said she was thrilled about the direction of the team and Erie’s athletics as a whole.

As for departing Monarch, Hook hoped she’d left the Coyotes in a good place after she poured her “heart and soul” into the program.

“Monarch girls basketball will always be a huge part of my heart,” she said.

Brent W. New: and @brentwnew