ABOUT SUMMER CAMP: It’s ‘Back to the Future’ for Katie Cochran Hall

PRIORITY ON FUN:  Former Byrd and Louisiana Tech guard Katie Cochran Hall focuses on fun along with basketball instruction in her camps. One tips off today in Ruston. 

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

RUSTON — When the Hall of Hoops Basketball Camp gets underway today at the Lambright Sports Complex at Louisiana Tech, camp director Katie Cochran Hall will find herself, once again, sharing her love and knowledge of the game with young people. 

Hall, who starred at C.E. Byrd High School, helped the Lady Jackets to back-to-back state titles in 1993 and 1994 as a leader on a team which was ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today,

Her experience with camps goes back to her days as a kid in north Caddo Parish and her time as a Yellow Jacket.

Every summer, her Byrd teammates gather for a reunion. When the team gets together, the talk is rarely of the games.

“We don’t say, ‘Remember that time we beat BTW?,’” Hall said. “We talk about the stories, the trips we went on, or some dance that somebody did that we all tried to do.”

However, Hall does remember a little bit about beating BTW for the LHSAA Class 5A state championship in a packed Hirsch Coliseum in 1993. Hall was the game’s MVP.

As she drove the lane for a layup, Hall remembers a post player from BTW saying, “Who is guarding that girl?” A clock malfunction disrupted the flow of the game, which went into overtime before Hall and her Yellow Jackets won 37-35.

Now, as a parent of four, it’s her children who are having those experiences playing for Cedar Creek School’s middle and high school teams. 

Hall’s daughter, Kennedy, is going into the eighth grade at Cedar Creek. Hall coached her team last year.

“I told her when I started coaching her team that it could get tricky,” Hall said. “It’s been great. Her attitude has been amazing. I think I’m tougher on her than I am the other players. I’m just glad her personality is receptive.”

When Hall started playing basketball, she was on the other end of the parent-coach equation.

“I was not as receptive,” laughed Hall, who was initially coached by her father, Kenny Cochran. “I didn’t always have the right personality. I was stubborn. There were some tough times with him pushing me, but I needed it.” 

It was as a Byrd Yellow Jacket when Hall’s love for basketball camps began.

“Playing for Coach Gay Nix, we always had a camp in the summer,” Hall said. “It really started with doing a devotion on the fly and grew into having the campers do skits. After that Coach Nix started giving me more responsibility. I loved it.” 

In college, she was a four-year letterman for the Lady Techsters and had the opportunity to play for two Basketball Hall of Fame coaches – head coach Leon Barmore and his assistant, former Techster great Kim Mulkey. She learned from both while working Lady Techster camps, which regularly hosted hundreds of young girls every summer.

“Coach Barmore was big on making sure we made every kid feel special,” Hall said. “A high five, or some other gesture, any incentive really. And he was big on announcing their name and making sure we announced their name correctly and loud enough for everyone to hear.”

Working for Mulkey, who is now the LSU coach, provided another permanent takeaway.

“She was really good at bringing enthusiasm every day,” Hall said. “She was also good at connecting with the many high school coaches we had working the camp.” 

After her playing days, Hall started coaching with stints at Tech and Ole Miss before putting the whistle aside in 2006 to raise a family.

“My husband, Lance, and I talked about it,” Cochran said. “It was a hard decision, but we both felt that it was the best thing to do for our kids. But I always knew I wanted to stay close to the game.”

In the time since, Hall started Hall of Hoops basketball services. It includes camps like the one she is directing today but also includes one-on-one and team sessions. Hall is especially excited about her camp this week because she is bringing in Tyler Coston, former director of Point Guard College.

“I went to his camp last year and selfishly wanted to bring him to Ruston to work with my team,” Hall said. “But I’m excited that it will be open to all players in the area.”

The hallofhoops.com website provides additional information on Hall of Hoops Basketball Services.

Contact Jerry at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com

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