PREP SPORTS: ‘Be a good person and show people the love of Jesus Christ’: West Point’s JD Cochran ready for senior seasons

West Point’s JD Cochran. (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. – In this interview, I talked to West Point senior multi-sport athlete JD Cochran about his junior seasons and what he’s looking forward to most about his senior seasons with his teammates.

“We had a lot of young guys on the field. We didn’t have a lot of upperclassmen, but this year, we will be much older this year. We learned last year just what it takes to win on Friday nights. It should be fun this year. With it being my last ride, we have to leave it all out on the field every Friday night,” Cochran said. “I’ve been blessed since freshman year to have some great upperclassmen to look up to. There’s always been guys ahead of me that showed me how and what to do, day in and day out. From the early mornings to the late nights, that work is shown on the field.”

JD’s had a blast playing under head coach Don Farley and has seen so much improvement from his game throughout his time playing football.

“It’s been an absolute joy and pleasure to play for him. He lets you have freedom, but not too much. He is one of the best people and leaders to lead our football team. He gets the best out of his players and he shows us how hard work pays off. When you work hard, things start going your way, and if we put in the work, our season will fall into place,” Cochran said. “I’ve gone from being a freshman that plays just on special teams, to having a big role at starting linebacker and me having to grow up quick. With it being my senior year, the expectations are big on having to fill those shoes and be the quarterback on defense. I’m ready to be that leader on defense and show the guys around me how to be that guy in the big moment.”

The team has been working really hard during the summer and are looking to have a strong season in 2023. He talked about his goals and the team goals for this upcoming season.

“We have been going through summer workouts and OTAs this summer to help us get better and ready for the season. We have got 10-41 to come help us for this season, from getting stronger in the weight room, to getting in better condition and faster. I think we are ready to go, and we’ll be a much different team from last season,” he said. “Our goals are to be the best team that we can be, make the playoffs, and make a deep run in the playoffs. Individually, I’m going to do whatever I can do to help the team achieve those goals, from being the leader, to being the best teammate I can be, whatever it is. I’m willing to do anything for us to win ballgames.”

JD thinks this year will be a very special one for the Warriors.

“What’s going to make this team special is how we all get together to have one goal and that is to win. That’s the great thing about sports: it’s not all about what you do, but it’s about how all 11 guys on the field come together to have one goal and that is to win. When everyone buys in, which everyone has, and we come together, that’s when something special happens and a deep run in the playoffs is very possible.”

The Warriors had a decent basketball season and JD learned a very important thing from some great guys. He’s had a blast playing under head coach Mason Voce and has soaked up as much as he can from him so far.

“I felt like we underachieved greatly. We had a group of guys that had a lot of talent, but the ball didn’t bounce our way sometimes. The guys I played with last year were great and they showed all of us younger guys what it took to be successful on and off the court, and it shows when you do that work,” he said. “Playing for coach Voce is fun. I’ve known him for a while. He coached us when we were in middle school and on JV for my freshman year. Us seniors have a great relationship with him and are usually on the same page when it comes to the game. What I’ve learned from him so far is how to be consistent. If you come in every day and put in the work, the success will come. He puts in so much effort and time that no one sees that makes myself and my team so much better. From breaking down film, to showing us how to be successful against the other opponent, there is no one that works harder and puts in more time than he does.”

JD has improved greatly on his game throughout his basketball career and will continue to put in the work as he gets ready for next season.

“I’ve improved greatly. I’m best around the rim and rebounding, but there are always places to improve. But the best thing that happened that I never thought would happen was when I got moved down to JV. I started on varsity the first half of the season, but Coach Voce saw I needed to improve on some things, so he slid me down to JV and it made my offensive game improve so much. If you believe what your coaches are doing, good things will happen to you,” he said. “I will continue to work my touch around the basket, as well as my jump shots.”

He talked about the goals for the upcoming season and what will make this team special to watch.

“Our team goals are to bring home a county championship and an area championship, which hasn’t been doing in a long time. With the depth and chemistry we have as a team, I think we can go deep in the state playoffs,” he said. “What I think will make our team special to watch is how much our older guys and younger guys have come together with one goal in mind, which is to win. We have a lot of depth, which is a good thing, and when we all buy in to what Coach Voce is saying, that’s when we will make changes around here and bring some hardware back to the Point.”

The Warrior baseball team won their fifth straight county title last season in what was another solid one for West Point. JD learned a lot from some amazing guys and from head coach Drew Bryson.

“I played with the older guys for the longest time, and it was a joy to be there for their last ride. They really showed us what it meant to be a Warrior and I wouldn’t trade any of them for anyone else. Those guys showed us underclassmen what it took to be great,” he said. “He’s a great coach, but a better person. He really gets the best out of his guys. He’s a coach, but when something goes wrong, you can call him and ask him anything. He would drop everything and be there for you and he’s a guy that you want to go to battle with. I’ve learned how to be a man and what it’s going to take to make it in the real life. He always says that baseball is really a teacher and teaches us when things don’t go your way, are you going to fold, or are you going to get up and fight for yourself? He shows us how to be a man and what you will have to be in the real world.”

JD has seen a drastic improvement in his game throughout his baseball career and will continue to improve in the off-season to help himself get ready for this upcoming season.

“It’s crazy how much I’ve improved from being an eighth grader playing on varsity, to being a senior now. It’s really insane how much I’ve improved, but I’m also more mature. My hitting has improved so much from freshman year to now and my arm has gotten stronger and stronger. It’s crazy, but it really shows the work you put in in the offseason and how much that adds up for you to be ready to go when first pitch is in February. If you put in the long night in the cages and the long tosses, you just have to put in the work if you want to be successful during the season,” he said. “I will continue to get my arm stronger and ready to go for the season. I’m also trying to hit more and more ball harder consistently and get a lot of cage time, long toss, and get in the bullpen as much as possible.”

He talked about the goals for this upcoming season and what will make this team special to watch.

“Our goal is to make in the playoffs and compete for a state championship. When everyone comes together and does their part, special things will happen. You just need one team to make a run and break through that wall to get the program rolling,” he said. “What will make us special to watch is how many young guys will come and contribute to help us win ballgames. With the only seniors being me and Gus, we will have to have a lot of underclassmen step up and make big plays in big spots, but they are more than comfortable making those plays. It will be a special thing to watch.”

JD has a couple of role models that he looks up to and talked about the best advice that someone ever gave him.

“In football, I loved to watch Luke Kuechly. He played so hard on every play and did things right. He never got too high, but not too low. He was a true leader on and off the field. In baseball, I love watching Austin Riley. He’s just a guy that does everything right. He’s a great dude and he can really play. He’s just a great guy to watch and try to be like,” he said. “The best advice that someone ever gave me is to give everything you have, no matter what it is, and have no regrets, so you can lay your head down at night and say, ‘I did everything I could do’. When you go through that mentality, then you will accomplish a lot of things.”

He talked about what else he learned from all of his coaches.

“I’ve learned how to be a leader and how to do things right. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win so bad, but it’s more important to be a good person and show people the love of Jesus Christ. They have taught me how to be accountable and how to do what you say you’re going to do. When you have a job and your boss tells you to be somewhere at a certain time, you better be there, or you will be fired. I can’t thank them enough for what all they have taught me and how to be the person I can be.”

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