By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
Dirt tracks and gymnastics mats are where the Cook family can likely be found on any given day.
Michelle and Kevin Cook travel a lot to 17-year-old Taylor’s dirt bike races and 12-year-old Nicole’s gymnastics meets.
High school sweethearts Michelle and Kevin enjoy spending time at the track or gym watching their children’s athleticism. Michelle works at Dr. Douglas Wolfe’s office in Mannington while Kevin owns a contracting company, Cook Brother’s Building and Excavating.
“I work four 10-hour shifts, being off on Fridays,” Michelle said. “(Kevin) has his own hours. He’s usually gone by 6:30 in the morning and usually doesn’t get home until 6:30 or after in the evenings.”
Taylor attends North Marion High School and has a love for riding his dirt bike.
“He races dirt bikes,” Michelle said. “He does the GNCC Racing, which is Grand National Cross Country Racing.”
She said Taylor has been on dirt bikes since he was little and has been in GNCC for a few years.
“He’s been riding dirt bikes and motorcycles since he was 5,” Michelle said.
She said her son is quiet, intelligent and likes to joke around when he’s with his friends.
Taylor’s younger sister Nicole attends Mannington Middle School and is on a competitive gymnastics team at Aerial Port Gymnastics Center in Fairmont.
“She’s in the gym practicing hard — always has that goal of wanting to be at the Olympics,” Michelle said.
She said Nicole is outgoing and social among her school friends and gymnastics friends.
“She doesn’t know a stranger,” Michelle said. “She is our social butterfly.”
With Taylor being able to drive, Michelle said it’s a lot easier on her when it comes to handling everyone’s schedules. She said he helps out a lot by driving himself and sometimes taking Nicole to practice when she can’t.
The Cooks use racing trips and gymnastics meets to spend time together as a family.
“Their sports keep us together,” Michelle said. “He travels up and down the East Coast for racing and she is the same way with her competition.”
The family travels to many states for races and meets, but on some weekends Taylor will have a race in one place while Nicole will have a meet in another. When that happens, Kevin goes with Taylor to the races while Michelle takes Nicole to meets.
“We try to go as a family when possible and try to make a long weekend out of it,” Michelle said. “We text each other or call each other back and forth to tell each other how they’re doing.”
Michelle said it’s hard when they’re away from each other on a weekend.
“As a mom you worry about him getting hurt down there and as a dad he worries about her getting hurt during competitions,” Michelle said.
When the family does get a weekend where they’re all together, it is usually spent at a race or meet.
“It’s very family-based events,” Michelle said.
It’s difficult for the family to plan vacations because almost every weekend is dedicated to the kids’ activities. But the family enjoys the time they spend together on those weekends.
“We did (go to) Cedar Point,” Michelle said. “My family is big into roller coasters. We love to ride roller coasters, so when we can we try to plan an event that way.”
Email Emily Gallagher at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.