VICTORIA- Last August was an upsetting time for fourth-year Vikes men’s soccer player Isaac Koch. While playing soccer just a few weeks before the start of the 2018 Canada West season, Koch suffered a knee injury that sidelined him from the season. In spite of this adversity, the Kelowna native continues to stride forward by supporting his team off the pitch and doing everything in his power to get ready for the next season.
After an outstanding opening three seasons of his university career Koch was recognized as a Canada West First Team All-Star in 2017, Koch found himself left off of head coach Bruce Wilson‘s 2018 line up.
“I was playing soccer during the summer and was running in a straight line when my knee just caved in,” explained Koch. “I tore my ACL, sprained my MCL and damaged my meniscus as well.”
This knee injury was not the first for Koch who experienced a similar but less significant injury a few years prior.
“I actually tore my meniscus in my other knee during pre-season of my second year,” Koch said. “I guess my knees are just made of glass.”
Koch expressed that his biggest struggle with the injury was having to watch his team play without him.
“It’s hard watching your team play knowing you can’t contribute,” Koch disclosed. “Just having to sit on the sidelines and watch everything happen is difficult. Soccer was also a huge outlet for me from school and everyday life. I had three months of not being able to do anything basically. From being so active every day to not being able to do much was really tough.”
Despite having gone through the extensive rehabilitation process, Koch remains positive and is working his way back to once again be a top performer for the Vikes in 2019. In addition, Koch demonstrates his love for his team given that he shows up to every practice even under his circumstances. Koch was cleared to run just recently and is gearing up to get ready for the next season.
“I had my surgery in November and just got cleared to run,” explained Koch. “I do a lot of rehab at practice, run around the track and just try help out in training whether that’s collecting balls or just simply being in attendance.”
Koch grew up in West Kelowna, BC, where he began playing soccer at the age of four.
“My parents tossed me in just like other young kids and I just loved it,” remarked Koch.
He decided to play for the University of Victoria after having an exclusive try-out with Vikes varsity head coach and nine time Canada West Coach of the Year, Bruce Wilson.
“We had finished our season in early April about three years ago,” explained Wilson. “Even though we were done, he wanted to have a try-out. So I invited our goalkeeper out just to get on the field for an hour and he was just outstanding. I told him after that one session he would make the team.”
Koch’s substantial involvement with the school and other organizations displays his selfless character. When he’s not busy attending class or practices, Koch volunteers with Special Olympics, where he gets kids with different special needs and abilities to get involved with sport. He also volunteers with the kids at his church, works as an event staff for other varsity Vikes events and is also a member of the Vikes varsity council.
“It’s given me more time to be involved in things I usually wouldn’t be able to,” Koch commented. “Before I had this injury my entire life was focused on soccer. Having it being taken away was frustrating, but now that I’m on the path to recovery and can have a positive attitude about it, I’ve realized there’s more out there once I do decide to be finished with the sport in the future.”
Koch described his current participation in the team as motivating and is grateful for all the support he’s received from his teammates.
“Being on a team where everyone is supporting you and watching you go through it all means a lot,” Koch stated. “Watching on the sideline only motivates me more to do everything I can to get back to full strength.”
Wilson describes Koch as an exceptional leader who adds significant value to the team.
“He works extremely hard, and is undeniably a leader on the team,” Wilson explained. “His speed, skill on the ball and shooting ability is fantastic. He gets along very well with the team and understands concepts we are trying to instill in our team. It was very unfortunate that he was out last year. It really hurt our team because he is a danger out on the park and is very valuable for our program.”
Wilson recognizes Koch’s ‘hands-on’ personality and is looking forward to building on Koch’s remarkable leadership skills.
“He’s always contributed both on and off the field,” Wilson expressed. “He’s still involved with our players. He’s always with the team, always comes to practice and is always working out.”
Koch’s off field personality, dedication to the men’s soccer team as well as his involvement with the Vikes Athletics and Recreation department was recognized as he was named as a nominee for the 2019 Chancellor’s Award.
According to Koch’s doctor and physiotherapist, the injury is healing quite well and Koch will be cleared to take to the field shortly.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see how he comes off the operation,” remarked Wilson. “He’s kept himself fit right up to the operation so his fitness won’t even be a question.”
Wilson, who captained the Canadian team at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and led Canada to the quarter-finals of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games, has full belief that Koch has the talent to pursue a professional career after his time with the Vikes.
“If he comes back like he was and I fully expect him to, I think he can go past the university level and play in the new Canadian Premier League which begins this summer in Victoria. I honestly believe he would be a player the Canadian league would be looking for.”
Koch and the Vikes will begin their Canada West campaign at the end of August 2019.