Coach Brissa Ochoa Named FCA Coach of the Year

Volleyball coach Brissa Ochoa poses with two former club members.

Volleyball coach Brissa Ochoa poses with two former club members.

When baseball coach Bart Bratcher retired in 2014, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) chapter at Westwood fell dormant as well. It wasn’t restarted until spring of 2015, when volleyball coach Brissa Ochoa convinced just five volleyball players to join. The club now has about 40 members from volleyball, football, baseball, and even some nonathletes. The club has grown so successful that on Saturday, Jan. 14, Coach Ochoa won Williamson County FCA Coach of the Year. When she received the award though, she was slightly flustered.

“It’s interesting because I don’t do it for that,” Coach Ochoa said. “I don’t do it for any type of recognition. I mean it’s awesome to know that people are watching and going ‘Great job, keep it up,’ it makes me want to go ‘I can do more.’ I should not have been rewarded. I mean I want them to be all-out kids who have their hearts on fire for everything they do so it definitely motivates me. I want to keep doing what’s right for kids — help them out, make them happy, and have fun while also doing things that are meaningful and purposeful.”

At meetings, members are able to discuss their faith and any struggles they may be facing, but a part of the club is students being able to talk about and speak their mind without fear of judgement and to learn and grow as people. They also try to engage in one service project per semester. This fall they volunteered at a Halloween carnival for kids. They had a spider race and a touch-if-you-dare kind of thing, where kids would feel weird things like ‘brains.’

“It was fun just seeing them be with kids,” Coach Ochoa said. “Encountering them, talking to them, being goofy with them, I mean, it’s all fun. I love being in [the classroom], seeing them talk about their faith, and just experiencing them grow from the very first day that I met some of them to now. Seeing the growth is amazing, and rewarding in it of itself.”

They also have visited elderly homes to play games, along with volunteering at Marbridge Assisted Living, a non-profit, faith-based residential community for adults with varying mental disabilities. They made Valentine’s Day cards with them for about two hours, and by the end of it all the residents were hugging the volunteers.

“The residents were saying ‘I love you,’” Coach Ochoa said. “They were just so sweet. All the interactions, you could see that [the students] were just whole-heartedly giving everything to what they were doing. I hope that they just learn how to serve, be open to others, and to care and love other people no matter what. I think the biggest thing is that I hope that they learn how to serve other people who might have a whole lot of different experiences than they do, and being open to it and showing love and compassion to other people because that’s what ultimately I would like them to get, learning how to give back.”

Despite how involved she is in FCA, it wasn’t until her freshman year at UT Austin that Coach Ochoa was introduced to FCA. It was a little bit different to what FCA is in high school, since her schedule was busier. But because she attended those meetings, she learned about other student athletes and their struggles, whether it was in academics, missing family, or with their faith. So when she arrived at Westwood, she wanted to give kids that same opportunity, to learn that there were other students facing similar struggles, and that they have a group of people who support them and understand them. She also wanted to make sure they had an adult, like a coach or teacher, they could trust.

“I hope that they just trust me,” Coach Ochoa said. “I love my job, not just teaching, not just coaching. I love them both, and it’s so fun to get to know kids outside of both of those things. I would’ve never coached some baseball kids, so the fact that I get to know them in this group is an awesome opportunity because I get to know them a little bit more, and seeing their faces out on the baseball field when I’m invited to games or something it’s really exciting to see that, and they know that I’m there to support them.”

This spring, Coach Ochoa plans on taking FCA back to the elderly home. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 8:15 a.m. in room D2206. More information can be found on Instagram and Twitter @FCA_Westwood.