For almost 15 years Gene Miiller has been a staple on the Washington bench — and in the athletic director's office. However, earlier this week that office became the new home of veteran AD Larry Cochren.
Cochren was hired in May to replace Miiller, who announced his retirement from that aspect of his job in March.
A native of Huntingburg, Cochren was the AD at Richmond High School but before going to Richmond, he served as AD at Evansville Bosse for 15 years.
He was named the District 6 Athletic Director of the Year in 2012 and 2015, and in 2017 in the Richmond district. In 2015, Cochren received the State of Indiana Distinguished Service Award. He comes to Washington as one of the most respected AD's in the state and has been elected to serve as president of the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association for 2019-2020.
However, all accomplishments aside, Cochren said he is here for the student-athletes and coaches.
"I loved my time in Evansville. I loved the kids and the coaches, but I was ready for another challenge when I went to Richmond," said Cochren. "We meet some wonderful people in Richmond, but in the last two years, we realized that we wanted to be back in this area. My wife (Sheila) is a nurse and we wanted to be closer to help with health concerns for some of her family members.
"When Coach Miiller retired, we thought this would be a great opportunity and we feel very fortunate to have landed in Washington."
Cochren said that one of his goals is to be visible at the school and around the sports environment.
"I think when you are visible, both kids and coaches know you care about what they are doing. I care about all sports and I try to be positive with everybody," he added.
"We are lucky, because Washington is pretty competitive in most sports. However, one of the big things where I see a need is getting kids to come out and play. I don't know what the answer is, but we have to find a way to get them playing earlier and keep them participating in high school."
Cochren is a former high school basketball and tennis player, along with being a former college tennis player and coach.
"One of the things that I bring to the table is an understand of what kids go through and what coaches go through. You have to understand both sides.
"I think I can help those kids who want to play at the next level, but there are a lot of next levels and you have to be realistic about that. I was one of those kids who needed athletics to help motivate me through school and I have an understanding of some of those avenues," said Cochren.
With the dissolving of the Big 8 Conference over the next few months and Washington's admission into the PAC, Cochren feels like he should be able to handle the change-over.
"I know every AD in the this area pretty well so I think we will find ways to make it work. The biggest thing is to figure out how the conference will 'divi' things up. I'm not sure every sport needs to be divided up or that you need to play every school in the conference. I don't know if it does our soccer team any good to play 13 conference games when you only have 16 games. However, I don't know how it is going to play out because we (as a conference) haven't had those discussions yet," he added.
"I don't think basketball will be the hard one to figure out. This is predicated by football. We aren't sure whether there will be crossover games with some of the smaller schools or whether you will have to pick up one or two games. When Jasper joined the SIAC they will now lose two of its biggest rivals in Southridge and Heritage Hills. However, we just won't know until the conference gets everyone in the room together."
Cochren said that he is hoping to relocate to the area. He and his wife have two grown sons, Jonathon, 25, and Cameron, 23.