Denise and Casey Zook discuss how Ron’s job and Casey’s college choice made their family closer

ME Online

ME Online

By Courtney Linehan

When Dad’s job takes him on the road half the fall and regularly throughout the year, it only makes sense that Mom and the kids would form an especially close bond.

For the Zook family, Ron’s career as an NFL and college football coach has made the relationship between mom Denise and daughters Jacquelyn and Casey especially strong.

Denise and Casey, a sophomore at the University, stopped by the Daily Illini this week to talk about their famous family and their plans for this weekend’s festivities.

Daily Illini: How do you think your relationship compares to most moms and daughters? Do you get along better than most?

Casey Zook: Yeah, for sure. My mom is my best friend, I love her, she’s so much fun. We shop together, we go out to lunch. I feel so spoiled that I live here. Some people ask me if I like having my parents living so close and I’m like, heck yeah.

Denise Zook: Well I’m so glad she feels that way. The whole time they were growing up, with Ron being away so much, he would always tell me, “You cannot be their friend, you are their mother.” It was almost like a lecture on his part. But now that they’re older, I can be their friend and the three of us have a great time together. It’s wonderful to have Casey here. I almost feel selfish that she’s here, but she had her choice of colleges, she was accepted to quite a few, but she chose Illinois. It was a great decision for her.

DI: Casey, what’s it been like having what, at least in this town, is a pretty famous last name?

Casey: When you tell them your name, people will kind of look at you like, “Why do I recognize that? It sounds familiar…” It’s been like that for a long time. We’ve always lived in a small town where college football is a big deal, so it’s kind of normal for me.

DI: You’ve moved around a lot. Do you think that’s made your relationship stronger?

Casey: Yes, definitely.

Denise: I agree.

Casey: I think especially me and my sister, but really our entire family is close because we moved around so much. A lot of times it would be just us in a place, we wouldn’t know anybody else, so we got really close.

We have a lot of inside jokes. Everybody thinks my dad is this really strict, scary guy, but if you saw him in person with us you’d be like, “Wow, he’s so goofy.”

DI: Living in Champaign, do you still do a lot of the Mom’s Day stuff?

Casey: My sorority has an auction and a brunch, so she came to all those events (last year).

Denise: Yeah, that was fun. This year she actually asked me out for Saturday night.

Casey: Some girls in our sorority are going to do something with our moms. It should be fun.

DI: What is the best part of living in the same town as your mom and dad?

Casey: Being away, I know I’m independent and I have my life here, I’m involved in a lot of things, but at the same time I can still see my mom and dad. I still have the comfort of home. If I’m sick I can go home, things like that. It’s nice.

DI: Casey’s first year at U of I was your family’s first year in Champaign. Did it help to have each other there?

Casey: I think so, because that was the hardest move I ever made, moving from Florida to here. It was hard because everything was new. I felt like I was experiencing so many things for the first time, and a lot of people were meeting new people and experiencing those things, but I didn’t really have a home to go back to. But I had my family.

DI: Jacquelyn lives in Chicago, right?

Denise: It came down to New York, Chicago and L.A. for Jacquelyn. It made the most sense for her. It just happened that it fell at the same time. She didn’t move there because we were here, she moved there for her. It’s worked out very well, and it’s great to have her just two hours away. Her entire college career she was nine hours away; she was at Vanderbilt and we were in Florida. I did get to go to Mom’s Weekend, but Ron never got to go for Dad’s Weekend.

DI: I was going to say, what do you do for Dad’s Weekend?

Casey: Well it’s funny. Everybody was asking if we were going to the game. I was like, well my dad’s going to be on the sidelines…

Denise: It was great that he did get to make it to brunch last year.

Casey: He calls it the KKR house, because the gamma looks like an “R.” He’ll ask “Are we going to the KKR house?” I’m like, yeah Dad, whatever.

DI: How would you describe Casey to someone who’s never met her?

Denise: Oh my goodness. Casey is the joy child, I have always called her the joy child. That is not to take anything away from Jacquelyn, but they have such distinct personalities. I call her that because she just brings me such joy and she’s such a blessing.

DI: Okay, what would you say about your mom?

Casey: My mom is so compassionate. She’s one of the most compassionate, caring people I’ve ever met. She thinks about everyone else before herself.

Denise: Oh my. Thank you, Casey.