A Wonderful View
When he enters a room, you can see that Pierson Cooke is a bright young man.
A warm persona, he is often found smiling, enjoying amiable chatter with those nearby. The punter/kicker for the Cranbrook Cranes has a wonderful view of the world.
“I’ve lived in many places,” says Pierson, “but wherever my family is- that’s home.”
He has lived in 5 different cities in 3 different countries.
Living abroad in England and Germany, Pierson learned to play organized soccer very early in life.
“I’ve played soccer since I was 3 years old,” says Pierson. “It is how I learned to be a competitive athlete and to play team sports.”
Living in Wisconsin, Pierson grew up playing for the Milwaukee Bavarian Soccer Club, a part of the Premier League of America, and a 6-time national champion.
Now living in Michigan, Pierson plays for the Vardar Football Club, a team that has produced 3 national championships and many fine college players at top universities like Duke, Villanova, Yale, and Georgetown.
Vardar FC was named to the Director’s Academy by the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association; it signifies the highest level of soccer play and development for teams in Michigan.
And this is where Pierson’s football journey begins- his American football journey.
Pierson began playing football for the Cranes last year as a junior.
“Being in the Director’s Academy prohibits you from playing for your high school soccer team, so I tried out to kick for the football team.”
In Pierson’s first year of playing organized American football, Pierson kicked a 47-yard FG vs. U Prep, a 41-yard FG vs. WOLL, a 42-yard FG v. Lutheran North, and a 41-yard FG v. Loyola.
He converted 9 of 12 field goals. He made 30 of 33 extra points, for a 91% conversion rate.
Pierson scored 57 points through field goals and extra points. He was the second leading scorer on the team in 2016.
31 of his 50 kickoffs were touch backs, meaning he kicked them through the end zone. He averaged 53 yards per kickoff. As a punter, he averaged about 34 yards a punt with his longest being 51 yards. Of his 28 punts, 10 of them placed the other team inside their 20 yard line.
“Pierson gave us an added dimension with his strong special teams play,” said Cranes Head Coach Joe D’Angelo. “His kicking ability allowed us to put our opponents in tough field position. He also gave us the ability to score from longer distances with field goals. He’s been a great asset in just his first year.”
For his outstanding performance, Pierson was named to the 2016 All-State First Team by the Associated Press (AP),
He was also named to the 2016 All-Division D4 by the Detroit Free Press, 2016 All Metro-North Honorable Mention by the Detroit News, and the 2016 MLive Defensive Dream Team, Second Team
For good measure, he was named to the 2016 All-County Dream Team by the Oakland Press and 2016 All-League Team by the CHSL.
“Rarely do you find such a raw talent, and when you do, usually it takes time to develop“, said Coach D’Angelo. “Pierson’s success is a testament to his talent and his drive to perfect his abilities. He’s is already an elite kicker in our state. ”
A Mid-Century Modernist
When he’s is not kicking field goals or punts, Pierson’s hobbies include reading, watching sports, and working out. His favorite book is “The Grapes of Wrath”, by John Steinbeck.
“It’s a story that follows the time line of my own grandfather,” said Pierson. “He moved from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl years. It helps me to imagine what he went through.”
“Piers”, as he is called by friends and family, is a future Economics/ Finance major, with a great likelihood of becoming a financial consultant. Yet he enjoys architecture, being described as a “mid-century modernist.”
His pal is a Cocker/Spaniel Poodle mix named Harley. “Harley is one of the most popular names for dogs in Wisconsin, “says Pierson. “Milwaukee is where Harley Davidson was founded and has its headquarters. It’s a fitting name.”
Favorite football team is the Green Bay Packers. He grew up watching them when he lived in “Brew City”, as Milwaukee is nicknamed.
Favorite player is QB Aaron Rodgers. “He’s one of the top QB’s of all time, “says Pierson, “it was cool to grow up watching him, especially as he took over from another all-time great, Brett Favre.”
Favorite moment football moment with the Cranbrook was kicking points at Ford Field in the CK win at the Prep Bowl. “It was cool to be apart of the team at this special moment, the first ever CHSL championship team, the first to ever play at Ford Field.”
Football vs. Futbol
When asked about his favorite soccer team, he answers- “Oh, Manchester United. Man U all the way”, says Pierson.
His favorite soccer player is Paul Pogba, a Manchester United midfielder and captain for France’s National Team. “He’s a powerful and skillful player and is usually at the center of big plays.”
When he compares football to “futbol”, or soccer, Pierson has some interesting thoughts. “My role in football is so specialized, with an emphasis on an individual effort as a punter/kicker.
It’s such a departure from the cohesion and team effort of soccer for me”, he says.
But he finds his role challenging. “I know I’m helping the team when I place kick or punt, so it’s helping me to channel my focus and deliver a good kick or good hang time. It’s a good mental exercise to learn to focus and place the ball where it needs to go.”
Pierson’s advice to younger players, in both sports, is to build a connection with other players, “form a brotherhood“, he says. Pierson finds the connection with other players rewarding and fulfilling.
“These are some of the best memories that we will ever experience, its best to enjoy them now.”