It is no mistake that Stanford’s rise onto the national stage coincided with the 1998 arrival of Ren? Lyst Cook, one of the bright young assistants in the collegiate ranks. Lyst Cook, entering her fourth year at Stanford and her eighth year of collegiate coaching overall, has brought a blend of enthusiasm and expertise to The Farm.
In three previous years, Lyst Cook has helped Stanford achieve a variety of program firsts. During the 1998 season, the Cardinal defeated nationally-ranked Utah, captured the school’s first Pac-10 Conference Championship, and boasted its first individual NCAA Champion in vault titlest Larissa Fontaine. That success carried into the 1999 campaign, when Stanford won the West Regional, finished 10th at the NCAA Championships, and produced four All-Americans. Under Lyst Cook’s guidance in 2000, All-American Katy Herbert placed third nationally on the beam while Jennifer Exaltacion was a double All-American.
Lyst Cook came to Stanford from Penn State, her alma mater, where she served as an assistant coach in 1997. That season, she helped the Lady Lions to a 12-9 mark, the Northeast Regional title and an 11th-place showing at the NCAA Championships. Penn State also boasted a pair of All-Americans: Missy Leopoldus on vault and Ellen Casey on floor.
Prior to returning to Penn State, Lyst Cook worked as an assistant coach at Massachusetts for three years, helping the team win the Atlantic-10 Championship in 1996. She also coached standout beam competitor J.J. Tolhurst, who was a 1995 NCAA qualifier, the Northeast Regional Beam Champion and the Northeast Regional All-around Champion.
Lyst Cook’s growing coaching resume is complemented by an impressive collegiate career. A 1993 graduate of Penn State, Lyst Cook was a four-year letterwinner (1990 to 1993) for the Lady Lions, competing primarily on the floor, vault and beam. She captured regional championships on beam in 1991 and 1993 and was the Big Ten Champion on beam in 1992. In 1990, her 9.90 score on beam was a career-high and set a new Penn State record. That record, which she equaled in 1993, stood for six years. During her career at Penn State, Lyst Cook helped lead the Lady Lions to a pair of Atlantic-10 Conference titles, three consecutive Northeast Region Championships and three straight NCAA Championship appearances (1991-93), including a fifth-place finish in 1991 and a fourth-place showing in 1992.
Lyst Cook graduated from Penn State with a BA in political science and an MS in sport management. She is married to Stanford women’s gymnastics head coach Mark Cook.