Happy Valley's Cochran  running towards military

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Most high school seniors don't always think about their career goals, but one Happy Valley High School track and cross country athlete already has big plans for the rest of his life.
   Jonathan Cochran will be attending West Point this fall in hopes of a thriving career in the United States Army.
   Being in the military was a life-long dream for Cochran, and he has taken every step to make sure this happened.
   "I've always wanted to be in the Army," Cochran said. "In history, all of our famous generals have been from West Point. I decided I was going to go there. And to get there, I had to go enlist in the Army last year and attend basic training during my junior summer to make sure my spot was pretty much a lock."
   Public service is a big part of life in the Cochran family. Jonathan's older brother, Jerome Cochran, has been active in the Republican Party for over a decade and now serves as a state representative in Nashville.
   But for the younger Cochran, the military life is what entices the him.
   "It's not so much the glory, but just having the organization that gives me a job and gives me a purpose and is going to take really good care of me and my family throughout the years," Cochran said. "That was one of the biggest things.
   "I've always wanted to be a soldier. I read a quote that said 'Every man feels mealy of himself for not being a solider.' I never wanted to be that way. It seems to be like every citizen should try to serve their country in some way."
   Cochran definitely wanted to go to West Point, but of course he had to have a little help getting in.
   "I went through Congressman (Bill) Jenkins, and he nominated me along with my company commander in the Army Reserves," Cochran said.
   Once Cochran received the news he would be going to West Point, it was a time of great joy for the family.
   "There was a lot of excitement for my family," he said. "I found out real early in the year. It was real exciting knowing that I've got my college all paid for and a job afterwards.
   "My whole family was really excited, because my family has had a long military history, but it's always been enlisted. Right now I'll be the first officer my family has ever had."
   Cochran started his military career last summer in basic training.
   That gave him a taste of what it was going to be like.
   More importantly, it helped him grow into the person he has become during his last year on Warrior Hill.
   "I did a lot of maturing during basic training," Cochran said. "Last year I went through a little bit of a rebellious stage. Over the summer, taking orders from drill sergeants, I matured a lot. When I got back to school, my teachers said that they had noticed a big difference in me. This year I've been able to handle a lot more responsibility, and withstand a lot more pressures."
   That maturing in life carried over into athletics. Cochran has improved his running times tremendously this year, but has also become more of a leader on the track.
   "I feel the need to always keep myself at a physical peak," he said. "During basic training, you're taught how to be part of a team, and how to take charge of a team. That was especially helpful during cross country this year, because we had a young team."
   While his brother is a rising star in the state's General Assembly, Jonathan says a career in politics is not for him.
   Jonathan wants to make a name for himself in the United States Army.
   "That's just for Jerome," he said. "I want to stick with serving in the military, and hopefully retire from that. I don't think I can do what my brother does."
   But Despite taking different career paths, Jonathan knows his brother is behind him 100 percent.
   "He's offered to help call people for me, and do anything that I need," he said. "He's been really supportive ever since I was little."
   With Cochran getting ready to start a new chapter in his life, Happy Valley track and cross country coach Don Verran is very proud of what his pupil has accomplished.
   "He's the type of kid that we all pick on around here," Verran said. "He's the kind you would claim as your son or stepson. In other words, we just treat him like the family. He's great for the whole community here."