Volleyball has consummate teammate in Kocher
Oct. 27, 2010
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
Michelle Kocher’s big brother, Chas, was the talkative, outgoing personality in the family. Michelle could usually be found hiding behind her mother’s leg.
“I wasn’t a big talker,” says Kocher, UT’s junior setter. “That’s how I learned to make sure my actions spoke louder than words. Over time, that’s also been my leadership philosophy. I think being a leader by example is a strong statement.”
Kocher’s contributions to the Texas Volleyball team are substantial in ways big and small, heard and unheard.
As a freshman in 2008, Kocher set the Longhorns to the national semifinals, and was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and last year, she helped UT transition seamlessly late in the season to a 6-2 offense.
Now, with Hannah Allison sidelined with an injury, Kocher has started the past three matches and will lead No. 10 UT against No. 2 Nebraska on Wednesday night at Gregory Gym.
“The one thing you can control is how you react to situations,” Kocher says. “Over the years, my role has changed. I think my attitude and work ethic and sense of leadership have kept me present. I will put my best into whatever position is needed.”
With the Longhorns, Kocher is loved for her calm, collected personality, regardless of the situation, and Kocher’s natural disposition makes her a perfect fit for team sports. Oddly enough, Kocher started with individual pursuits -- like gymnastics, swimming and ice skating -- but turned to team sports once she started school. All her friends were on teams, and that’s where she wanted to be.
“It’s why I love them, because when you think back, I don’t remember many of the scores. It’s all the other times that make you smile and laugh,” Kocher says. “The majority of my best friends throughout my life are the people I’ve played with. That’s a special connection.”
Kocher’s love of team has pushed her throughout her time at UT. Whether as a starter or a steadying, consistent force in the practice gym, Kocher’s effort has never wavered.
Kocher started 31 of 33 matches, and played in all 118 sets, as a true freshman in 2008. She paced the Longhorns to the second-best team hitting percentage in the country. After becoming a lineup regular in early Nov. 2009, Kocher settled in and helped the Longhorns advance to their first NCAA title match in more than a decade. In UT’s loss to No. 1 Penn State, Kocher registered 24 assists and 12 digs.
“She’s very committed and a great teammate. She’s loyal,” head coach Jerritt Elliott says. “She’s a key ingredient to our success these last few years. She comes in now, with a big match against Nebraska on Wednesday, and this is not a new environment for her. She’s used to this type of match and atmosphere.”