Twinning: Cook sisters excel on & off the track
They look the same. Act the same.
Have the same major. Live in the same dorm room.
Compete on the same team. In the same events.
Ashley and Amanda Cook ’20 are identical twins, and aren’t ashamed to be so similar to one another - and that’s something Doane professors, students, and coaches are more than OK with.
When you compare Ashley and Amanda Cook, you’re going to see similarities left and right, but ironically enough, it was the ability to get used to welcoming differences and change in their life that has helped shape them into the individuals they are today.
Growing up in a military family, the only constant for the Cook sisters was constant change. Ashley and Amanda’s father was an officer in the Army, serving in the logistics and transportation departments. Because he was stationed at a number of different locations, the Cook sisters lived in seven different places (Germany, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska) prior to their high school graduation.
Ashley and Amanda moved to Waverly in 8th grade, and graduated from Waverly High School in the spring of 2016. As standout athletes competing in basketball, volleyball, and track & field, the Cook sisters had a number of options to compete in a sport on the collegiate level. Every school that was recruiting the Cook sisters knew that they were a package deal. Ashley joked, “It helps that we only have one car, too.”
Doane was always an option that was attractive to the Cooks, for a number of reasons. Ashley and Amanda’s parents (Lynne and Corey) both graduated from Doane, and the Cook sisters had been exposed to Doane by attending track camps there in high school.
“Our parents never pushed us to come here, but when we came on visits we really liked it,” Amanda said. “We really enjoyed the atmosphere here.”
The Cook sisters enrolled in the fall of 2016, and have already made the most of their college experience. The two have competed at the NAIA indoor and outdoor national championships, earned all-conference honors (plus an All-American honor for Ashley), and are in good academic standing as environmental science majors.
“Coaching the Cook twins is an adventure every day,” sayid Ed Fye, head track and field coach at Doane. “They are very tough competitors. They will do whatever is asked of them, and we have asked a lot out of them the last two years.”
But most importantly to them, the two are very involved in the ROTC program Doane offers through UNL, knowing that they both want to serve in the military after graduation.
“Athletically we like to push each other, make each other better,” Amanda said. “That applies in ROTC training too. In the classroom, since we have a lot of the same classes, we try to help each other as much as we can.”
While the two may seem inseparable, they realize after college they will likely be stationed in different areas, something that is standard protocol for siblings that are in active duty. Ashley says this past summer was the longest the two had been apart (45 days) as they took turns at basic camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky - a requirement for incoming cadets.
“We like to be together, but we can be separated,” Amanda said with a big smile. “She’s my first best friend ever.”
Ashley and Amanda are only two of a handful of students at Doane that participate in the ROTC program through UNL, serving as great representatives for the university. The two have class twice a week and lab once a week, and depending on the season, will have physical training as well. Because Ashley and Amanda are competing in track in the indoor season in the winter and outdoor season in the spring, they are excused from physical training during that time.
Overall, Ashley and Amanda’s Doane experience boils down to what a number of students say is one of the most valuable aspects of going to Doane - the relationships you build.
“Making meaningful connections with the professors and students has been awesome,” Amanda said.
“Being able to cultivate relationships is very valuable,” Ashley added. “These connections will last well beyond college.”