As the 2012 Murfreesboro Football League season was coming to a close, George Cochran, the Vikings defensive coordinator, felt the team needed some motivation.
The team had not won a game during the regular season and had one game remaining for redemption. So Cochran came up with an idea. He would dress as a Viking for the bowl game that was to be played at Seigel High School. It worked, or at least it help, the Vikings won their game with a dominating performance.
"I dressed up a little bit last year to bring out something in the players," said Cochran who continued the sideline role in 2013. "The Vikings outfit is really a hodgepodge of a little of everything. It started off as a Halloween costume and I have added things from different things to it. I am wearing football shoulder pads to make it myself look even bigger then add in the wigs, the fur, the skulls and other things I came up with and there you have it."
This is Cochran's second year with the Vikings and has coached two years previously in another division. A retired Army veteran sniper now working at Alvin C. York Veterans Hospital, dressing up for Halloween made the Viking outfit easy to come about.
"I like to dress up at Halloween and scare the kids," smiled Cochran. "I end up with more candy in the yard from when the kids are running away from the door when they see me in my costume than they have in their sacks. So dressing up like a Viking is no different than dressing up at Halloween or in a ghillie suit when I was a sniper."
Cochran tweaked his gear during the off season by adding more and more accessories. When he is in full regalia from his shoes to the top of his head gear, he stands near 6' 7" tall.
"The players really enjoy it and gives us something different," said Cochran who was a starting middle linebacker for the All-Army team when he was on active duty. "The other teams do not have a mascot and what I do makes the other teams envious because we have something different, but then again it is hard to dress up like a Raven, Steeler or Falcon. But our team enjoys it and that what counts."
Aside from his Viking get-up, what Cochran is the most proud of is what he and head coach Kenneth Clark have been doing the last two years. The positive influence they have had on the 9-10 year old boys they coach.
"We both try of be a positive influence on the players and help them grow in a positive way," said Cochran. "Some of these boys had never really played football and to watch them grow into the game, understand the game, understand how their position is played and how their position is important to the team is very important to both of us. The Viking outfit is only part of it.
"At the end of the day, it is all about the kids," said Cochran. "Watching them perform on the field and turn into fine young men and be proud of what they have accomplished win or lose. Hold their heads up, be confident in themselves and be proud of themselves. Coach Clark and I hope we are making a difference in their lives and work hard to do that."
Jim Davis, Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation