Deerfield, NY – On November 14th, Haylee Smith and Avery Cook will sit down at a table at Whitesboro High School and sign their names to National Letters of Intent, committing themselves to play NCAA Division I Athletics.
For Smith, who will join the St. Bonaventure Bonnies Women’s Soccer Team and Cook, headed to St. John’s University to play baseball, signing on the dotted line will be a culmination of more than a dozen years of friendship and the realization of dreams they’ve had since they could kick or hit a ball.
You see, Smith and Cook, both 17 (and separated in age by just 6 days) are neighbors and have been “competing” against each other in sports since they were old enough to cross the street in their Deerfield Neighborhood by themselves.
“At his (Cook’s) house, it was always wiffle ball” Haylee Smith explained, “at my house (about 100 yards away) it was soccer, but we were always playing a sport”.
Haylee and Avery have not only been neighbors, but classmates in the Whitesboro Central School District, from Kindergarten all the way to 12th Grade.
Avery is the son of Bob and Alyssa Cook of Deerfield. He has a sister, Addison and a brother, Ryan.
Haylee is the daughter of Marc and Ilene Smith, also of Deerfield. She has a sister, Hannah and a brother, Hunter.
The wiffle ball and soccer matches in the backyards yards led to the two neighbors going their separate ways during their respective sports seasons as Whitesboro Warriors, as well as rigorous club sports schedules in recent years.
Cook, a 6’6″ power hitting 1st baseman and pitcher, has been a member of the Whitesboro varsity baseball team since 9th grade. He has also traveled the East Coast the past couple of summers with the East Coast Lumberjacks, a travel baseball club based in Long Island. “The exposure I received from playing summers with the Lumberjacks was incredible” said Cook, who will join the Utica Blue Sox of the Perfect Game Collegiate League this coming Summer.
As for Haylee Smith, who expects to play an outside mid position at St. Bonaventure, playing with the Coliseum Soccer Club has paid big dividends, in both training and elevated competition. “Coliseum has been great, we played against some great teams and I learned alot” Smith said, adding that she was especially grateful to Jim Vitale for all of his help throughout her club soccer career.
During the recruiting process, the Cook and Smith families found their friendship helpful as well. “Our parents bounced things off each other about how we were being recruited and talked to by the various coaches” Smith explained.
So, next fall, these two lifelong friends will quite literally go in opposite directions to continue their careers as student athletes. Haylee to the St. Bonaventure campus in rural Westerm New York and Avery, to St. Johns, in the heart of New York City. Smith will study Pre-Med, while Cook plans to study Sports Management and hopefully pursue a career in professional baseball. “It’s been my goal since I was a little kid” Cook added.
“It’s going to be weird not seeing her every day, that’s for sure” Cook told MYSR “but we plan to keep in touch as much as possible and we’ll get together on breaks and stuff”.
Smith recently completed her senior season of Whitesboro soccer, where the Warriors finished 2nd in Section III, Class A, after a 3-1 loss to Jamesville-DeWitt. Haylee finished her three year high school career with 34 goals and 16 assists. She will now focus her attention to training for the tough competition of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Meanwhile, before his final season with Tom Maggiolino’s Warriors baseball team, Avery Cook will hit the hardwood for head coach Garrett Herthum’s Warriors basketball team, where he is expected to be a key contributor in the post position. “I like basketball and we have a good team coming back this year” Cook said, “I’m looking forward to it”.
After talking with these two kids for just a little while, one thing became very evident: the harder you work in the classroom and the more fun you have playing sports in the backyard with a good friend, the more your chances increase to realize your dreams.
Congratulations and best of luck to Haylee and Avery from The Mid-York Sports Report!
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