Cowgill finds calling, but keeps eye on Cougs

PULLMAN -- When the curtain came crashing down on the greatest two-year run in Washington State basketball history last March, two of WSU's three senior starters quickly turned their focus to leaving Pullman to begin their pro careers. In stark contrast, Robbie Cowgill couldn't wait to return to Pullman to perform work that he finds infinitely more rewarding than pro or college basketball.

Robbie Cowgill works in campus ministry with WSU athletes on behalf of Campus Crusade for Christ and Athletes in Action. Cowgill's paychecks are considerably smaller than the ones brought home these days by Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low, but Cowgill says he's perfectly content with his decision not to follow his former teammates into pro ball.

"I could definitely see myself doing this type of thing for a long time," Cowgill said Wednesday. "I really do love college students. I love where they're at in life. I love seeing them understand how they can know God and really grow. They have their whole lives in front of them."

Cowgill, who first became involved in campus ministry as a sophomore, said he considered playing pro ball overseas "for about a week" after his college career concluded before he decided to give up full-time hoops for full-time ministry.

"It's kind of what I was made to do," Cowgill said.

Still, Cowgill says he would "be lying if I said I didn't miss basketball at all." Occasional practices with the Cougars "really scratches the itch for me," and he plans to tour Poland and Germany with an Athletes In Action team this summer.

Cowgill remains close with several current Cougars. He regularly attends games and watches others on TV.

"I think they might be even a little better than we were last year defensively," Cowgill said. "Obviously, we've got some offensive struggles at times, but that just comes from losing two all-conference guards (Weaver and Low) and having a lot of young guys."

Cowgill said reserve forward DeAngelo Casto's "defensive instincts are incredible for a freshman," and he's also been impressed with freshman guard Klay Thompson. Cowgill said he's "excited" about the future, but he likes to think the Cougars can succeed right now.

"I hope they start to click together more as the season comes along," he said. "But I feel good about where they're at."

As for his call to ministry work, Cowgill said he has attended church regularly since childhood, but the tall Texan became much more devout after his freshman year at WSU.

"Even though I had a relationship with Christ -- I trusted him -- I always pictured God kind of looking at me with this disappointed look," Cowgill said. "Just like, ‘I know what you've done and who you really are.' Just disappointed with me and stern and distant.

"I feel like my sophomore year, God started to show me --- it's kind of cliché -- a loving Father who was smiling at me. I realized I didn't have to hide from him anymore."

Cowgill arrived at Washington State with a squeaky-clean image that he enhanced with hard work on the court and stellar work in the classroom. He was named All-Pac-10 all-academic three straight years and last season was named the Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Cowgill insists that looks were deceiving when he first moved from Austin to Pullman. "There was sin in my life," he said. "If you would have looked at my life in junior high and high school, you would have seen the perfect Christian kid, quote-unquote. That I always did everything right. That's what I wanted people to see, but there was stuff in my heart that people couldn't see. I was self-centered ...

"I had stuff going on inside of me that I knew wasn't what God wanted. I knew he could see that when no one else could."


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