Author,  Award-Winning Journalist and Proud Oklahoman

Photo Courtesy of Gaylon H. White

Crowley, Louisiana Notre Dame High School players, coaches, and fans celebrate Coach Louie Cook’s 400th career victory. Notre Dame defeated Green Oaks of Shreveport, 49-14, in the Louisiana State Playoffs first round. 


When Gaylon White strayed off the path that led him to write five books about baseball—his first love—it seemed unusual and uncomfortable to venture into football, scary even. “I’ve built up enough confidence to overcome the self-doubt that creeps in every now and then,” he told me as he began the project years ago. But . . .  “This time it is doubts around doing a football book, a first for me.”

What, in comparison, did this guy, who spent much of his life writing about a corporation and the games played there, know about football?

Turns out, White knows quite a lot.

This would not surprise anyone familiar with his background. Before joining the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, where, Henry J. Inman, an old friend from their Oklahoma sportswriting days, had established an Okie beachhead. White, after all, had written for the Oklahoma Journal, Arizona Republic, and Denver Post. Ink ran in his veins long before tire lamp black.

Still, I could relate to White’s fears. My first book was about and with a football coach who had final say as to what went into his book. Fortunately, my coach, Gerry Faust, and White’s, Louie Cook, were driven by similar desires to teach young men how to succeed not only on the football field but also in life by doing things the right way.

Faith and family came before football for Cook and Faust, who had been so successful at Cincinnati Moeller High School that this other Catholic school, the University of Notre Dame hired him straight from Moeller and entrusted its football history and health to his care. It proved too great a leap, and Faust ended up with an even more difficult job. He became the first coach to put his team, the University of Akron, on his back and carry it up to the NCAA’s highest division. Faust’s only break: Fewer people paid close attention and cared less than Irish fans after the novelty of Akron acquiring Notre Dame’s coach wore off. Book signings at Notre Dame drew more fans than Akron games.

White found a subject worthy of his skills and concern, one offering lessons that extend far beyond the football field and burn bright long after the Friday Night Lights fade. White made trips from his home in Tennessee to southwest Louisiana’s Acadia Parish where Lewis Cook Jr. became a legend coaching another Notre Dame (High School).

Unlike Faust, who had no collegiate coaching experience prior to Notre Dame, Louie Cook had had two stints at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) in Lafayette, where he did well enough to be asked to return as head coach after he had returned to high school coaching. Cook declined. He knew his place. He and his wife, Faye, never left Rayne, Louisiana, where he began his coaching career and continued to live when he coached at nearby USL, Crowley High School and, finally, Crowley’s Notre Dame. He was a Rayne Man.

Most of all, though, he was a coach that won because he loved his players and they loved him, even if he could be tough and exacting, especially as he proved each summer during workouts that set the tone for success. From 2013 through 2021, “Coach Louie Cook’s undersized, overachieving sons of crawfish farmers” won 93 percent of their regular season games and two of Cook’s five state championships.

“You read about Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” Coach Julius Scott of the Geneva School in Boerne, Texas, told White. “They say that when you talked with her, she looked at you like you were the only human being in the world. That’s the way Coach Cook makes me feel.” Scott told Cook, “Louie, I think, you coach like Jesus would’ve coached.”

“I don’t know about that,” the self-deprecating Cook replied, “but I’d like to know what he would’ve called on third-and-one the other night when we got stopped.”

Cook did not take himself or his celebrity as seriously as he took helping his players find and walk—or run—the right path. He loved and cared as much about those among his Notre Dame flock as he did USL quarterback Jake Delhomme, one of several of his who found success in the National Football League. Not all of them were prototypical NFL material. But Louie Cook changed that. He could work miracles.

Some people, including other coaches, even took to calling him “Little Jesus.” When it came to football, Louie Cook could turn water to wine. He drew comparisons to Mother Teresa for the depth of his caring about those around him. He made the young men who looked up to him—even though he was short—believe their goal should not be simply to win football games but to also get to Heaven.

A former cornerback of his, Nick Ware, thought he found his calling in coaching Notre Dame’s secondary for Cook. But when Ware asked Cook how he viewed his job, Louie told him: “Nick, I’ve always seen my coaching, wherever I was . . . as a ministry.” When Ware shared with fellow assistant coaches that he believed he was being called to be a priest, they wanted Louie to intervene and convince Ware to continue his secular coaching career.

“The call ain’t coming from no cell phone,” Cook replied. “He ain’t getting a text. That’s the Big Guy calling. Little Jesus don’t mess with the Big Jesus.”

Throughout Coach of a Lifetime: The Story of Lewis Cook Jr., Legendary High School Football Coach, Gaylon White’s “football story,” White’s seamless weaving in such stories can look miraculous. It isn’t. It’s the wordsmanship of a writer of a lifetime.

Even Mother Teresa, who founded Missionaries of Charity, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and devoted herself to the poor and the sick, had her own struggles. Although her whole life seemed a miracle to those she helped, some of Mother Teresa’s “miracles” the Catholic Church deemed insufficient for sainthood. Two healings, however, were not; they passed scrutiny of the Congregation of for the Causes of Saints, a medical committee, and Popes John Paul II and Francis.

Gaylon White leaves no doubt that, given the evidence and testimony he compiled, Louie Cook also has passed the test of his life. So has White.

During the Mustard Wars of old Cleveland Stadium years, the entrepreneurial White took on a side gig promoting Stadium Mustard. He made people believe it is as good as it is cracked up to be. His writing about Louie Legend does no less.

Product, personality, sport, fastball, or forward pass, Gaylon White will put some memorable mustard on it.