Homegrown talent

If the names fueling Fort Dodge’s recent state championship surge sound familiar, they should. The red and black roots definitely run deep in this new era of Dodger athletic success.

Jaci Cochrane and Beth Murman recently put the finishing touches on FDSH’s 10th title the last 16 months. To put that medal count in perspective, the Dodgers had crowned a cumulative total of two state champs from 2005 through 2014 – a stretch of 112 months.

Jaci’s mother, Toni (Zehr) Cochrane, was a decorated all-state athlete in multiple sports during Fort Dodge’s golden era 30 years ago. Jaci’s brother, Nick, and sister, Hilary, were both state tennis placewinners for the Dodgers as well.

Beth’s mother, Dee (Astor), was an all-state track standout at FDSH. Beth’s uncle, Darin, captured three state track titles as a Dodger. And of course her brother, Brian, was a boys state doubles champion last spring.

Both Toni Cochrane and Darin Astor are in the school’s Hall of Fame.

Family ties continue to produce multiple generations of Fort Dodge wrestling standouts as well. Two-time reigning state champion Brody Teske’s father, Dan, was a fourth-place finisher for the Dodgers at the 1987 state meet. And the father of freshly-minted mat titleist Triston Lara, Nick, took third at state in 1994 for FDSH.

Athletic legacies aside, these young men and women have, more importantly, represented their school extremely well in both the classroom and the community. It doesn’t take long to realize Fort Dodge’s recent champions – Beth and Brian Murman, Cochrane, Teske, Lara, Sam Cook, Cray Washington, Jonny Bowser, Alex Markov and the 2015 bowling squad – are typical, hard-working Dodgers who were raised to handle both the ascension to and responsibilities of success in stride.

Talent helps. A championship lineage helps. But student-athletes must still have the inner drive to treat their natural ability with a sense of both urgency and modesty. Many Fort Dodge athletes are doing that today, thanks in large part to other family members who first paved the way.

WORDS DO NOT SUFFICE: I didn’t think it would be difficult to express how much we appreciated the outpouring of support when our 10-year-old son, Evan, was hospitalized recently after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

We were, of course, first overwhelmed by the news. We were then amazed by Evan’s bravery and resilience in the face of adverse circumstances. Despite struggling with symptoms for months that left him physically and emotionally drained, followed by a battery of tests that landed him at Blank Children’s Hospital, he refused to let his smile fade or his faith waver.

The thoughts, prayers, messages and encouragement from the community gave us great strength in a moment of vulnerability. Saying thanks isn’t nearly enough, but also, entirely necessary. When called upon, Fort Dodgers can support like no other.

Evan is hopefully on the road to recovery now. The disease is not curable, but it is treatable. For that, we are thankful. This has been a humbling experience, but we haven’t gone through it alone. Your support and kindness has left a lasting impression on our family and, most importantly, my son in a time of need. We sincerely love you for that.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net