Chris Cook - 0.5 - 2003
Classification: .5 Player
Jersey Number: 32, 6 and 8
Hall of Fame Induction: 2004 (1st .5 inducted)
Home: Walnut Creek, California
Teams: Berkeley Quadzilla 1988-1997, San Jose Quake 1998-2003, Sin City Skulls 2006-11, Renegade Rugby 2012-16, High Fives 2017-Present
One of the few quad rugby players in the US who got hurt playing able bodied Rugby. Chris was injured at UC Davis in 1980 at the age of 19. Along with Rugby, Chris was active in many sports before his injury, competing in Football, Baseball and Distance Running. He was also an accomplished Quarter Midget Car racer for 10 years, winning two National Championships, which led to his induction in their Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama in 1982.
Six years later Chris found Wheelchair Rugby through Bonnie Lewcowicz and The Bay Area Outreach Program (BORP) in Berkeley, California who had just seen the sport at a demonstration in Texas. He was a member of the inaugural Quadzilla team out of San Francisco, a team he named and would become captain of.
Quadzilla would enter the USQRA in the league's second season in 1989. With eleven teams playing in the U.S. at the time, his Quadzilla team made an impressive debut at the National Tournament in Dallas, Texas by finishing third. The virtual unknowns made a name for themselves by beating defending Champions, the Minnesota Rolling Gophers, on a last second goal. The following year Quadzilla became National Champions by dethroning the Dallas Sidekicks who had won the year before.
Quadzilla had quickly become a National contender, dominating the West Coast and making it to the next four Championship games. In the 1991/92 season, a more equitable classification system was introduced and Chris's classification changed from 1.0 to a .5. The new class made him one of, if not the best, .5's of the early 90's. He was a part of many classic battles with arch rival Tampa Generals. Often at tournaments it was Tampa and Quadzilla, then the rest. Over his career he was known as one of the most durable players and was a model of consistency in the .5 class. All .5's were compared to him in the sports infancy.
Always a student of the game, Cook kept a book on opponents in the U.S. and Internationally. He was always looking for an edge with strategies or chair modifications. Some of his innovations helped shape the evolution of the low point chair. His bumpers, which he initially adapted just to protect his size 13 feet, gave many high point opponents nightmares. He was always willing to provide opponents with ideas about how they could improve their game.
In 1993 he captained the Quadzilla team to the USQRA Championship game. That game would go down in history as the greatest final in League history when his team went down to Tampa in double overtime. Later that year he made his first National team and was named a Captain for the team that won Gold at Stoke Mandeville. He would add another Gold Medal at Stoke the following year as the only .5 on the team - again demonstrating his durability on a team that had three players that were class 3.0 or higher - Chris was an integral part of many line-ups and never missed a beat.
In 1995, he was selected to represent the USA in Wheelchair Rugby's first World Championship in Notwil, Switzerland. In 1996, he was named as an alternate to the first Paralympic team which only had 8 players due to its exhibition status.
In 1997 Quadzilla lost its primary sponsor and several key players moved on. Additionally, Cook's longtime teammate, housemate and fellow Hall of Famer, Nils Jorgenson, retired. Quadzilla's reign as a perennial power ended. The remaining Quadzilla members merged with The San Jose Quake to form an impressive squad. The Quake went on to two Division II title games, winning the Division II Title in 2001. In 2002 The Quake made it to Division I where Chris helped his team to a 4th place finish.
After 14 years of wheelchair rugby this would be Cook's final appearance at nationals before retiring due to a shoulder injury. After receiving accupuncture treatment on his shoulder, Cook came back as a 45 year old class "0", saying, "I want to be the best no class, nothing ever!" He helped The Las Vegas Sin City Skulls develop players and make it to four straight D2 Nationals. After leaving Las Vegas, Cook began Renegade Rugby, first as a player/coach then head coach. In 2014 Cook was appointed Assistant Coach of The Force; Team USA's developmental squad. In 2017 Cook began coaching the current High Fives Sierra Storm and 30+ years later, he said, "Rugby has changed my life profoundly two different times. The first time when I was injured in the scrum playing college rugby and the next time when wheelchair rugby found me in 1988. This sport has allowed me to make numerous friends and travel around the globe for the past 30 plus years. I Love Rugby!"