Local college star offers basketball clinic to River Wards kids

Jen Mc­Cook, née Ricco, in a play­er’s card from her time play­ing bas­ket­ball for Temple. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF JEN MC­COOK

Port Rich­mond mom Jen Mc­Cook will help loc­al kids with their bas­ket­ball skills in up­com­ing clin­ics, and maybe set them up for the same glory she’s had in her ca­reer.

Temple Uni­versity bas­ket­ball hall-of-famer and Port Rich­mond mom Jen Mc­Cook says the ba­sics of play­ing bas­ket­ball are pretty easy. It’s just that some kids don’t ever hear about them.

Mc­Cook is pas­sion­ate and know­ledge­able when ex­plain­ing the ele­ments of the game — hand­ling the ball, drib­bling and shoot­ing cor­rectly.

These in­struc­tions, Mc­Cook said, are just the ba­sic things she was taught as a young bas­ket­ball play­er. Now, she’ll im­part her wis­dom on loc­al kids who want to learn the game.

“I know every little ba­sic thing they need to do in or­der to be the best they can be,” she said of her stu­dents.

Mc­Cook re­cently star­ted host­ing one-on-one bas­ket­ball clin­ics with sev­er­al Port Rich­mond kids, and this week is launch­ing her first group bas­ket­ball clin­ics for third-to-fourth graders and fifth-to-eighth graders. The group clin­ics will be held at Samuel and Co­hox re­cre­ation cen­ters.

Walk-ins are wel­come, she said.

Mc­Cook, an ele­ment­ary school teach­er with the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia and former high school bas­ket­ball coach, said that from work­ing one-on-one with young­sters, she has learned that kids don’t al­ways get taught the fun­da­ment­als.

“Even if they’ve been play­ing, they might not have been taught the cor­rect way to do it, be­cause maybe their coach wasn’t taught to play that way,” she said. “When you play at the Di­vi­sion 1 level, you know each little baby step you need to take.”

For Mc­Cook, teach­ing sports loc­ally is a throw­back to her days as a re­cord-break­ing bas­ket­ball play­er at Temple Uni­versity. In Janu­ary, she was of­fi­cially in­duc­ted in­to the Temple Uni­versity Wo­men’s Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame for her per­form­ance dur­ing the 1993-98 sea­sons – un­der her maid­en name, Jen Ricco.

Mc­Cook, a lifelong Port Rich­mond res­id­ent, said that as a kid she spent her free time play­ing at Frank Glav­in Me­mori­al Play­ground.

In middle school, she was no­ticed for her skills on the court after play­ing an all-star Cath­ol­ic Youth Or­gan­iz­a­tion game in the 1980s, rep­res­ent­ing St. Adal­bert Church.

Af­ter­wards, Mc­Cook was in­vited to join the Phil­adelphia Liberty Belles, a wo­men’s Am­a­teur Ath­let­ic Uni­on team. She toured the coun­try play­ing with the Belles, while at­tend­ing Ju­les Mast­baum Vo­ca­tion­al/Tech­nic­al School in Kens­ing­ton.

Mc­Cook was tar­geted for re­cruit­ment to nu­mer­ous Di­vi­sion I bas­ket­ball teams. She elec­ted to go with the wo­men’s bas­ket­ball team at Temple Uni­versity.

While play­ing for the Temple Owls, Mc­Cook earned second place in all-time steals per game re­cord (2.4), and she still holds the single-sea­son steals per game re­cord (3.6), for the 97-98 sea­son. She pegged her ca­reer steals at some­where in the low 300s.

Mc­Cook was also a lead­ing scorer in the 93-94 and 97-98 sea­sons. She’s ranked 11th over­all at Temple for ca­reer scor­ing, with 1,236 ca­reer points. She was named to the At­lantic 10 First Team in 1998, and the At­lantic 10 All-Rook­ie Team in 1994.

Play­ing for Temple was a great ex­per­i­ence, Mc­Cook said – cul­min­at­ing in the “Big 5” tour­na­ment of the 98-99 sea­son, between teams from Temple, Vil­lan­ova, St. Joseph’s, UPenn, and La Salle.

That year, Mc­Cook and the Temple Owls went 2 and 2, but went home feel­ing like win­ners after wip­ing the court with St. Joe’s and UPenn.

Since gradu­at­ing Temple, though, Mc­Cook has fo­cused on rais­ing her four kids. This year, as she wraps up a four-year ma­ter­nity leave from teach­ing, she came up with the idea of of­fer­ing her bas­ket­ball clin­ics to loc­al Port Rich­mond kids.

Mc­Cook ad­mit­ted that she hasn’t played in any league games re­cently. But she still loves to throw the ball around on the play­ground with her kids.

“It’s something I would def­in­itely like to be do­ing. Teach­ing is what I’m good at, and teach­ing bas­ket­ball is even bet­ter,” she said.

To get more in­form­a­tion about sign­ing up for clin­ics with Jen Mc­Cook, call (267) 325-1416 or email at ric­coj23@aol.com.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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