West Valley basketball ace Rachel Cockman takes talents to Division II level

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 7:13 PM AKST
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The Cantwell, Alaska community celebrated Saturday as one of their own parlayed their athletic ability into a college education. West Valley Girls Basketball standout Rachel Cockman made her collegiate decision official when she signed her national letter of intent to play for Western Colorado University’s Division II program.

“She loves basketball,” said Milo Griffin, Cockman’s head coach at West Valley. “She’ll practice 80 times a day and whatever you want her to do, she will do it. She wants to get better, she really loves the game.”

Originally from Cantwell, about 150 miles south of Fairbanks, Cockman arrived at West Valley High School her junior year and was immediately in integral part of the program. Through her first two years of prep hoops at Tri-Valley, she led the Viking Warriors to consecutive state tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish her sophomore year. She earned All-Tournament honors on both occasions and was already approaching the 1,000-career points mark after just two seasons.

“She is team all the way, she is really team oriented,” Griffin added. “She loves the other kids, loves interacting with the other kids.”

The 6-foot-1 forward reached the sought after milestone during her junior year with the Wolfpack. West Valley was in contention for a state tournament appearance before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing the dirty work, the Wolfpack leaned on Cockman for much of the interior defense and rebounding duties. She also has a nice touch around the rim, allowing her to pile up points in the paint.

“I am trying to make [people] understand how valuable she is around the basket, she can really be so dominating around the basket.”

As an honor roll student, Cockman also suited up for the Red and Gold on the volleyball court her junior year.

Cockman joins a Western Colorado team that is coming off the program’s best season in 2019-20. The Mountaineers went 18-4 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, securing the school’s first ever appearance in the NCAA DII Tournament. WCU head coach Lora Westling is entering her fifth year with the program.

If all goes well, the high school basketball season in Alaska will begin in January, where Cockman will take the court for her senior year at West Valley.

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