My Passion for Sports Is Homegrown
Cav Koch – Austin, TX
Growing up in the Koch household, there was competition in every aspect of life – playing a board game, getting good grades, fighting for our parents’ attention and food at the dinner table (I joke but everyone ate their fill every meal), and most of all, any sport we participated in. With three older brothers and a younger sister, there were plenty of bodies to turn any activity into a game, which then always became a competition. My whole life my dad has been an Athletic Director at the high school level, so our family time was different than most since his evenings were typically crammed with practices and games after school. As a result, we grew up in the gym, on the field, and on special occasions, accompanying him out of town for various sporting events because that was our opportunity to spend time with him.
While my parents never forced any of us to participate in sports, they always encouraged us to find something we were passionate about. Unsurprisingly, we all chose to play sports and grew up to be pretty darn good athletes. I started playing organized sports as early as I could and as much as possible. After school it would be a race to finish my homework so that I could go outside and play whatever sport was in season with my siblings.
Some of my fondest memories of playing youth sports were the weekends I spent with a teammate’s family. I would stick with them all day while we played in our games and would then cheer on their siblings’ teams. With five kids playing in all different parts of the city, there was no other option for my family. As a parent myself now, I can finally understand the insanity of what the elementary and middle school years must’ve been like for our household. But fortunately for my siblings and I, my parents were committed to giving every one of their kids the best opportunity to chase their dreams.
The sports environment and school of thought I was raised in was that of the generalist, not the specialist. I played sports year-round, moving from one to the next as each season would conclude. Basketball, soccer, baseball, track, football, volleyball – I played them all and put off the decision to specialize in one for as long as possible. The other huge benefit, which I didn’t realize and appreciate at the time, was that I essentially played up my entire life. I wanted to play with my brothers as much as possible, so whether it was 2 on 2 basketball in the driveway or at the park with their friends, I always played against bigger, faster, and stronger kids. Fortunately, I was committed, determined, and hyper-competitive, so I was forced to hone my craft and evolve my game to keep up. While I’m embarrassed to admit the number of games that ended in tears due to my disdain for losing, the pain and frustration made me a better athlete and, as a byproduct, better person.
Once I got to high school it wasn’t logistically possible to play everything, so I elected to stick with football, basketball, and track, playing all four years and lettering in all three sports. After high school, I was able to achieve a lifelong goal of mine when I continued playing football at the collegiate level. There are countless coaches that impacted my life and shaped me into the man I am today, many of whom I still keep in touch with. However, the most influential people were the ones I shared the house with. My dad was my coach on and off the field, always pushing me to be the best that I could be. My brothers and sister were my best friends and competitors throughout it all – supplying that fierce, yet healthy competition that drove each of us and forming bonds that will never be broken. Lastly, but just as importantly, my mom was my biggest fan and supporter. She was the head of logistics, getting everyone where they needed to be on time, was in the stands for as many games as possible and was always there to pick me up when I was feeling down. Looking back now, I realize the push from my parents was never about the wins and losses, but rather the environment and community that sports provided.
As a father of two young boys, I’m not sure what their individual journeys will look like. I get excited whenever they want to play a game or sit and watch one of my favorite sports teams, but I try not to force it on them. My and my wife’s goal as parents has always been to help them find what they are passionate about and give them every opportunity to pursue their dreams, just as my parents did. If they want to play sports, I will be thrilled because I know what a tremendous impact it had on me. And if they don’t, I’m always excited to learn something new and will be their biggest fan in that pursuit!