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November 30, 2023

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Mickey Cochrane: The Godfather of BGSU Soccer

Mickey Cochrane: The Godfather of BGSU Soccer
BGSU Athletics

If a Mount Rushmore of BGSU athletic figures existed, it would undoubtedly include Mickey Cochrane. 

Cochrane is one of the founding fathers of BGSU athletics. He is the architect of the university’s men’s soccer and lacrosse programs, initiating both programs at Bowling Green in 1966. 

On June 1, Cochrane, whose list of awards is seemingly endless, had one more honor attached to his name and legacy, which include his induction into the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Hall of Fame as part of the 2023 class. He is now one of 119 people in the MAC Hall of Fame and the 11th person affiliated with BGSU to be inducted.  

Cochrane achieved significant success on the soccer pitch for the Falcons. Just seven seasons after the program’s inception, he led the Orange and Brown to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1972 and 1973. Cochrane’s Falcons also captured the Ohio Conference championship in 1973.  

Cochrane was also a member of the first NCAA Soccer Tournament selection committee, where he helped shape the inaugural tournament in 1959. He served as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) president in 1969 before being given the NSCAA’s Honor Award, the association’s prestigious award that signifies lifetime service to the sport, in 1978.  

When he eventually stepped down from his coaching duties in 1977, Cochrane had amassed a record of 68-56-14 in 13 seasons, including a 61-39-10 record across his final 10 seasons. He was also named Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association Coach of the Year in 1969 and 1972.  

Cochrane also had great success with the men’s lacrosse program at BG, leading the Falcons to an 88-24 overall record across 10 seasons, including an undefeated season in 1970. Bowling Green won the Midwest Lacrosse Association titles in 1974 and 1975 under Cochrane.  

He was named the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coach of the Year in 1970.    

A testament to his character, Cochrane instilled a hard-working ethic into his players in a way that was never judgmental. 

“If you’re going to do something, you do it 110%. And if you fail, you just pick yourself back up again. That’s all you can do. Mickey instilled that in the players, and he did it in a way that he was never judgmental,” Bob Gofus, who played fullback under Cochrane and graduated from BGSU in 1972, said to Stephen Jenkins in the documentary “Mickey Cochrane: An Enduring Legacy.” “I can’t think of a time, even when you did something wrong, that he addressed the negative. At the end of whatever the discussion was, it always ended on a positive.” 

Along with being a great coach, Cochrane was also a great teacher.  

“When you talk to those great coaches, they always talk about themselves as being teachers. I think that was the secret sauce of Mickey Cochrane,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said to Stephen Jenkins in the same documentary. “He views himself as not only a great coach…but he also cared about the players, so focused on their success and their personal and professional development.”  

On top of his induction into the MAC Hall of Fame, Cochrane is also a member of the BGSU Athletics, NCSAA, Ohio Lacrosse, and Oberlin College Hall of Fame.  

Cochrane, whom BGSU’s soccer field was dedicated to in 1980, still serves as curator of the Athletic Archives at BGSU, decades after ‘retiring.’  

Even though it has been over 40 years since he coached a soccer game for BGSU, Cochrane’s legacy is still very prevalent in the program today.  

“The game is completely different than it was back [in Mickey’s era]…but the thing that hasn’t changed is the values that Mickey instilled back in the day. I think that’s one of my responsibilities as a head coach here, and whoever comes after me has the obligation and the responsibility to continue to stay connected with those values that Mickey put in place in the early days,” Eric Nichols, current BGSU men’s soccer head coach, said to Jenkins in the documentary.  “We do that by trying to connect our alum with our current players so that those short stories and perspectives can be shared. Then, one day, our players will be sharing those with the future players. That way, these values and Mickey’s legacy perpetuates.”  

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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Lucas Kleimeyer, Sports Production Director

Sports Production Director

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