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Athlete Spotlight – Josh Cooke: Leaving It All Out on the Court

August 20, 2021 | Story by Megan Trexler | Commander, Navy Installations Command

WASHINGTON – Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t understand why. “Take every day as a blessing, and know that the big man upstairs gives his toughest challenges to his toughest people,” shared IC3 (Ret.) Joshua “Josh” Cooke.

Fredericksburg, Virginia native, Cooke enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2015. He shared, “Both my grandfathers were in the military, so my family has a long history of serving our country. I just knew that joining the U.S. Navy was going to be the next step for me.” 

After Cooke’s injury in 2017, Cooke joined the Navy Wounded Warrior family in mid-2018 and immediately started participating in the adaptive sports program. “The adaptive sports program is actually what drew me to Navy Wounded Warrior,” Cooke shared. He continued, “Growing up as an athlete, I’ve always been competitive, so participating in adaptive sports just seemed natural.”

The veteran Team Navy athlete said, “Honestly, I have that Superman syndrome. I know I am human, but I just want to constantly push myself to my limits.”

In the summer of 2018, Cooke attended his first adaptive sports camp in Jacksonville, Florida. He expressed that meeting his fellow wounded warrior teammates helped change his outlook on life. “There were these big, strong guys there. Not just physically, but mentally, too. They’ve had to overcome so much. It’s not like they ignored their injury or illness, they just didn’t let it stop them. I wanted to be like them,” Cooke reminisced.

Cooke expressed that throughout his recovery journey, he’s chosen to focus on the fact that, you can only control one thing in life, and that’s how you let things affect you. No matter what happens, he tries to choose the positive side.

At Cooke’s first appeared on the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games stage, competing during the 2019 games in Tampa, Florida. In 2019, Cooke competed in field, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, and wheelchair basketball.

During the 2021 DoD Warrior Games, Cooke was slated to compete in six sports, including field, golf, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. Out of all the sports, Cooke expressed that he loves the team sports the most. He said it’s the sense of camaraderie that draws him in.

Navy Wounded Warrior is the Navy’s sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen and providing resources and support to their families.

The Warrior Games are a Paralympic-style competition among more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as from international armed forces. The 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games would have been hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida from September 12-22, 2021. The invitation-only event was going to feature 12 sports: archery, cycling, field, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting (precision air), sitting volleyball, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. The 2021 DoD Warrior Games were canceled due to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our service members and local communities as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to affect the country.


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