The lesser-known side of David Kool

February 11, 2010

With 12 seconds remaining, the Western Michigan University men’s basketball team trailed the Bowling Green State University Falcons, 64-63, in University Arena.

After committing a foul to get into the bonus, the Broncos applied full-court pressure as the Falcons attempted to inbound the basketball. When Bowling Green finally got the ball in bounds, the pressure was too much for their point guard and as he lost the ball it found its way into the hands of WMU senior David Kool.

Without hesitation, Kool drove inside and connected on a short jumper off the glass with 4.2 seconds left, giving him 23 points for the night while propelling his team to a one point victory.

With 3,515 fans going crazy, Kool leapt with joy into the student section after the final buzzer. For most athletes this would have been a career-capping performance, but for David Kool it was just another day at the office.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a player that wants the ball in his hands more when it comes to winning,” WMU head coach Steve Hawkins said. “If it’s time to win a basketball game, he’s got what a lot of the great ones have. He’s just a fierce competitor.”

Kool’s competitive drive began way before he stepped one foot on WMU’s campus. In high school, the 6 foot, 3 inch guard led Grand Rapids’ South Christian High School to two state championships (2003 and 2005), while becoming the school’s all-time leader in points (1,853) and Michigan’s Mr. Basketball in 2006.

Despite all of his accomplishments, many big-time collegiate coaches passed on him after he tore his ACL prior to his senior year of high school. There were also many outside chatters that he only dominated was because of his lack of competition, but in the fall of 2006, Kool officially began his college career on a quest to prove everyone wrong.

“I had no idea what it was gonna be like. I knew everybody in high school was telling me how different college is and how different the game is and it was just a learning process,” Kool said. “It took a long time and it took a lot of guys beating up on me and realizing what my role was and understanding that and then once I got that understood, it just exploded from there.”

Before everything would explode for Kool, he would once again had to overcome an injury. In his freshman year for the Brown and Gold, he severely pulled his hamstring prior to training camp during an individual workout. Instead of getting down, Kool simply fought himself into the rotation and by the season’s end, he would go on to become the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year.

The people closest to Kool are well aware that he has never been a man of excuses. This makes it easy for those close to him to console him after losses or other tough situations.

“I always just try and be there for him and he doesn’t complain about anything, ever, so when I can tell he’s getting down, I just try to keep him up and keep him positive,” Kool’s girlfriend Molly Dwyer said. “But it’s kinda easy because we’re going through the same situation and I just try to be there for him and give him my support and I try to be his No. 1 fan.”

Dwyer is also a senior at WMU who plays for the women’s basketball team. Kool and Dwyer have been dating since their freshman year and her support may have also played a huge role in Kool’s success as a Bronco.

“She knows when to say things and when I’m in a bad mood she knows to come in and try to cheer me up and then she knows when to give me to pointers too,” Kool said. “We like to listen to each other and it’s nice to have another voice that actually knows what’s going on, and I definitely try to listen to her and respect her opinion.”

Not only does he respect Dwyer’s opinion, Kool has respected the opinions of his teammates and coaches. That is why in the next three years, No. 23 would go on to become arguably the greatest player to ever put on a Bronco uniform — largely due to his work ethic.

“He works at it — the funny thing about him is that I wouldn’t consider him a great shooter but he’s a good shooter,” Hawkins said. “What he is, is a great scorer. He’s worked really hard. His work has come in different forms at different points in time in his career.”

“My freshman year when I hurt my hamstring, the strength and conditioning coach and then the trainer at the time kind of pushed me towards yoga,” Kool said. “I was skeptical at first thinking yoga’s just like a girlie thing and not wanting to do it, but it really did work and I got more flexible and it was just one of those things that I had to do to sacrifice some of the things that normal college people would do so that I can excel on the court.”

In his sophomore season, Kool was selected to the First Team All-MAC while leading the MAC in scoring in conference games (17.8 ppg). In his junior season he would get even better as he led the overall conference in scoring with 17.9 points per game, becoming the first Bronco to do so since Booker James in the 1986-87 season. He was also named to ESPN the Magazine’s Third Team Academic All-American due to his success in academics. He currently maintains a 3.40 GPA — majoring in physical education with an emphasis in teaching and coaching.

Despite all of his accomplishments, Kool still entered his senior season with even more goals: to win the MAC and to make it to the NCAA Tournament. In the process, he also broke Manny Newsome’s record to become WMU’s all-time leading scorer against Akron on Jan. 27.

“It’s pretty crazy — still when people say that, it still gives me chills up my spine and it’s just insane to think about with all of the hard work that I put in in high school and even here, it’s paid off,” Kool said. “Even though how great of a record it was, I did feel a little bit of pressure coming into the game to break it, so I think it was nice to break it so that we could move on to start talking about some team-oriented goals.”

While Kool continues to make his push to accomplish his goals, his character continues to glow as he simultaneously inspires others in the process.

“He’s one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever meet. He’s a good Christian guy so he’s not out doing stupid stuff. He’s a good leader,” said Ross MacGregor, Kool’s high school teammate. “I got a younger brother that’s 14 years old and he’s looking up to him and my brother will text him and he’ll text him right back saying good stuff to him. So he’s just a leader for kids our age and younger kids — he’s just a great role model.”

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One Response to “The lesser-known side of David Kool”

  1. […] busy. In this episode, I challenge Western Michigan University’s all-time leading scorer, David Kool, to a […]

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