Anthony Kocan

You were on the 2015 Oakdale team that won its second straight state title. What do you remember about it?

I remember playing with some amazing guys. I was a freshman at the time, so right when I made the team, I was a little scared. What can I say? They’re big guys ready to go to college. They have beards and stuff like that. So, it’s intimidating. They instilled in me motivation. That’s what’s brought me to where I am right now. That team was something. They had won the year before, so every practice, they’d come in, and they act like it’s a game. It’s normal to them. It’s just insane to be in that environment. That’s what made them the best.

As you look at that team and your current team, both won region championships. In what ways are they similar?

The work ethic. That’s what it is. The team that I played for previously was very skilled. This team, we struggle sometimes, but we work hard at it. I think it’s the work ethic — that’s the biggest similarity that I see.

How are the teams different?

We have a bunch of juniors on the team. Back then, we had almost all starting seniors. We had a bunch of sophomores playing last year. We got knocked out first round, and they were all sad. I said, “Guys, you still have next year and the year after. You’ve got to push it.” This year, they came out, and they were crazy — they were ready to play.

Does that make this achievement that much more special knowing that it’s mostly juniors as opposed to mostly seniors? Which one was better for you?

They were both amazing. I can’t really pick. Anytime you can win something like this, it’s amazing. These kids, they give it everything they have. I go home, and I’m like, “I’m on a good team.” I’m thankful for them. I’m a good player, I’d like to say, but these guys make it great.

Being away from the state tournament stage for two years, how does it feel now that you’re back?

That’s the best way to start and end a career right there in high school. I’m just loving every second. More recently, I’ve just decided to love what I’m doing. I used to stress a lot about going to games. These guys make it easy. They make it fun. I think that’s what it’s about out here. It’s just nice. It feels good — all the hard work.

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