Team Player: A. J. Cochran

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A. J. Cochran. Photo: Bryce Richter.

When A. J. Cochran x’15 is on the soccer field, people tend to notice. It starts with his size: at six foot three, and just under two hundred pounds, he sometimes literally sticks out above the competition. But coaches around the country are also talking about his skills, and doors are beginning to open for this sophomore.

The St. Louis native first played internationally as part of the Under-18 squad for the United States, traveling to Argentina and Chile. He also competed on a tour in Europe before returning to the States to make big contributions to the Badger men’s team.

Cochran, a defender, started in eighteen games during his freshman season, scoring one goal and three assists. His play was impressive enough to garner a unanimous vote for the Big Ten’s All-Freshman Team in 2011, and it earned him a coveted spot on the national Under-20 training squad. He practiced with that team during the summer, hoping to remain on the roster through the U-20 World Cup in 2013. He also practiced with the Chicago Fire, a Major League Soccer team.

It’s a lot to handle — even without throwing college into the mix, but Cochran can rely on voices of experience. His father, John, played soccer at Maryville University, and his sister Taylor is a gymnast at UW-La Crosse.

Cochran also played basketball, baseball, and football as a child, but says his father helped him realize his true potential. “I would sit down with my dad and have talks with him,” he recalls, “and he thought that soccer was probably the best path to take if I wanted to play a Division I college sport.”

That dedication is rewarded, Cochran says, when he puts on a U.S. national jersey.

“Not many people can say they’ve gotten to represent their country, and I’m very humbled to be able to have done it,” he says. “That, by far, has been the best accomplishment.”

Published in the Fall 2012 issue

Tags: soccer, sports, Students

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