A knee injury sidelined Isaac Koch last season but the West Kelowna soccer star has come back with a vengeance this year playing for the University of Victoria.
The former Mt. Boucherie Secondary star was named the 2019 Canada West Player of the Year in late October after tallying 17 points in the season and leading the Vikes to the Canada West playoffs.
Koch and UVic were bumped out in the semi-finals, but the season’s success was not lost in the shuffle.
“This time last year, I was eight days away from surgery, we were still wondering if I was even going to play this year,” said Koch.
“It feels awesome to come back and to be able to contribute like this.”
Now with his fourth year of university eligibility completed and a potential step ahead of him towards playing in the new Canadian Premier League (CPL), Koch is weighing the options of where the sport he loves will take him next.
Koch could chose to return to UVic for his fifth and final year or he could see if his name is called at the upcoming CPL draft, which will select nearly 15 Usports athletes for invitation to Canadian pro team training camps.
Koch’s recently-won Player of the Year award puts him among the top five players of the 2019 class.
Despite the seemingly tough choices ahead of the soccer star, the uncertainty hasn’t been phasing.
“If soccer is going to happen, it will happen,” said Koch.
“That year I took off because of injury made me realize how much soccer means to me, but it also made me realize that there’s more to life than soccer and I don’t need to worry about what’s next.”
“This past year was a lot of fun not having to worry about my injuries and I’m excited to see what the opportunities will be like.”
With nine goals and eight assists this year, Koch’s end of season awards also included being named to the Usports All-Canadian First-Team as a first-time captain for the Vikes.
Like a true and confident athlete, Koch feels like he has the ability to put up almost 20 points every season.
That UVic semi-finals loss in the playoffs has lit a fire under Koch as he prepares for the next steps, be them in the CPL or Usports.
“I don’t feel like I accomplished enough and I want to bring UVic to Nationals,” he said.
“Regardless of what happens, I’ll want to play my fifth year with Victoria and captain the team again and be a leader to our good, young players.”
An invitation to a CPL pre-season camp, which could come draft day on Nov. 11, could change where the aspiring pro will be playing.
Be it the Canadian Premier League or another year at the University of Victoria, Koch has realized that his future within the game is owed to his local roots.
“I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for Okanagan programs and the Penticton PCSL team when I was in Grade 12,” he said.
“That made the jump from youth soccer to university not as big a step as I owe a lot of my soccer to playing and being in the Okanagan.”
The CPL, Canada’s top league system, is chalk full of former Usports players.
Players that Koch has played against and if his name is called on Nov. 11, he’s confident that he can make the jump.
“Kind of cool seeing players I’ve played against at that level,” Koch said.
“If they can do it, so can I.”
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