CHICKASHA – In the summer of 2008, Annie Zoch made one of the toughest — and consequently one of the best — decisions of her life.
Zoch, from Mannford, turned down a scholarship from Oklahoma State University and instead decided to attend USAO.
“I originally chose USAO because my sister already was there,” Zoch said. “I am so glad that I did, my college experience was better than I ever imagined it could be.”
The 2012 graduate now faces the challenge of her first post-college job and the thrill of a limitless future.
Zoch is one of nine former athletes to be honored at the 40th Anniversary of Athletics, scheduled on USAO’s campus Nov. 1-3.
“I think Annie is the kind of girl who will be successful at whatever she chooses to do in life, and that includes staying involved in soccer,” said Jimmy Hampton, head soccer coach.
While Zoch started the 2012 USAO soccer season as an assistant to Hampton, she found a job in the management trainee program at Enterprise Rent-a-Car and couldn’t turn down the full time offer.
“It is a very good company, and I work with great people,” she said. “It has been a bit of a struggle getting used to working 11 hour days, but I am very appreciative for the opportunity.”
When Zoch began her career as a Drover in 2008, she joined a team that had gone 5-10-1 the previous season, but Jimmy Hampton knew Zoch was the kind of recruit who could turn the women’s soccer program around.
“Annie is probably the best center backs that I have had the privilege of coaching here at USAO,” Hampton said. “She always trained and played at the same level, which was very infectious for the players around her.”
In her first season, Zoch started 18 out of 19 games as a defender, scoring one goal and adding two assists. She earned All-Conference First Team honors, an award almost un-heard of for a freshman.
As just a sophomore, Hampton named Zoch as captain of the team, a position she held throughout her career at USAO.
“I just tried to come in with a positive attitude and try to better myself in practice every day,” Zoch said.
Just as Hampton predicted, Zoch led the Drovers to new heights on the field. It was her senior year, however, that she and her teammates will never forget.
“We had never won a playoff game in my time at USAO,” Zoch said, who was forced to sit out the first round of the conference tournament. “I kept having this terrible feeling of never being able to play again for my team.”
But dedicated to winning, the Drovers pulled out the victory, giving Zoch a chance to play again. The Drovers went on to shock Southern Nazarene and then Oklahoma City to win the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time in school history and earn the invite to the NAIA National Tournament.
“Making Nationals was a dream come true for me,” she said. “It meant all the hard work and disappointment of previous seasons was worth it.”
In her four-year career at USAO, Zoch racked up several awards. She was a three-time All-Conference honoree and an NAIA Champion of Character in 2011. In 2012, she was awarded with the Bill & Pat Smith Scholar Athlete Award, given one female athlete at USAO each year. She finished her career with nine goals and four assists.
In terms of her future, Zoch just wants to find her place in the world.
“I want to start a family, I want to take some adventures and maybe see the world a little more,” Zoch said. “I would love to still be a part of USAO if at all possible.”
Zoch’s profile is part of a nine-story series featuring an alumnus from each of USAO’s current and former sports. Each of the alumni featured will be honored with a special award at the 40th Anniversary of Athletics, scheduled Nov. 1-3, 2012, on USAO’s campus.