Rewind: 1996 Players of the Year
Catch up with players of year Fisher, Koczak and Murray
The reality is that most student-athletes do not go on to play professionally, so you often wonder whatever happened to the player who scored the winning goal in the national championship, or blocked the shot that would have sealed the game in the other team's favor.
As one in a series of features about former NCAA student-athletes who went pro in something other than sports, the Division I, II and III men’s soccer national players of the year from 1996 talk about what they learned from the college experience.
Division I – Mike Fisher – Virginia
Then: Fisher was a two-time Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and a three-time All-American. He led the Cavaliers to a pair of NCAA titles and one third-place finish.
Now: Since graduating from med school at Virginia and a residency and fellowship at Duke, Fisher has been working at a private practice, Delaney Radiologists, in Wilmington, N.C., the past three years. He is married to former Virginia women’s soccer player Kelly McLaughlin and has two daughters.
In his words: “An athlete is forced to juggle two pseudo careers – one in sports and one in school. Pre-med has forced me to develop time-management skills. Just growing up playing sports and getting to a level of playing sports in college is developing a work ethic and hard work and dedication in trying to achieve a goal, and that carried over into med school.
“Being an athlete, you deal with people of all walks of life – people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. In life, you’re surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes. Socially, it helps you relate to people.”
Division II – Rick Koczak – Southern Connecticut State
Then: The goalkeeper posted a career 58-2-7 record and a 0.31 goals-against average. Koczak led the Owls to an NCAA title in 1995 and Final Four appearances in 1994 and 1996.
Now: Koczak, who played for the NPSL’s Cleveland Crunch and USISL’s Western Mass Pioneers before retiring in 2006, is head coach of the Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, Conn.) prep school girls' soccer team and head coach of the U12 South Central Rage and U15 South Central Scorpions women’s club teams and runs Koczak’s Keepers for youth goalkeepers in Connecticut, Mass., and New York. A former junior national team player and two-time Olympic Festival selection, Koczak was inducted into the Connecticut Junior Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010. He lives in Milford, Conn., and has one daughter.
In his words: “I’m able to take a lot of what I learned with college and the national team and put them all on one jar. Nutrition, how to deal with adversity, how to deal with things you can’t control – I’ve been able to put them all in one jar and help these kids come along.”
Division III – Brad Murray – Williams
Then: Murray was a two-time All-American and led the Ephs to an NCAA title in 1995 and a runner-up finish in 1993. He graduated as Williams’ all-time leading scorer with 46 goals.
Now: Murray is president of and investor in Tatcha, a skin-care company. After playing professionally for the Cape Cod Crusaders and Worcester Wildfire, he graduated from Harvard Business School and worked as a private equity professional, direct sales/product manager and corporate finance analyst at other companies. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Lynn Jurich.
In his words: “I can’t say enough about what being a student-athlete taught me. You get a chance to fail and succeed so many times. One of the big lessons I learned was the discipline it took to train every day and to learn, and I carried that over into my professional career.
“I think I learned more in the [Williams] soccer program and from coach [Mike] Russo as far as values than in any one class. I just can’t say enough about the experience. It’s helpful to be in such a strong program. The discipline to train and prepare are values that I’ve carried with me into the business world.”