Joplin, Mo. (Nov. 19, 2017) — Most Kansans who knew Coach Ken Cochran as the formidable college coach, director of the Heart of America Sports Camps or the CEO of the global popular basketball Pop-A-Shot game never questioned his passion and his heart. It was that very heart that stopped beating in the early morning of Sunday, November 19. Cochran, who passed away a month shy of his 85th birthday, turned a formerly all-women’s college into a national small college men’s basketball power, guiding the Marymount Spartans to national prominence in the 1970s and early 80’s. Under Cochran’s leadership, Marymount won five NAIA Kansas State District 10 Championships and placed third in the national NAIA Championships in 1976. Cochran’s impressive record at Marymount of 401-118 included 106 consecutive home wins from 1970 to ’78 and the Spartans were nationally ranked every year. He made the move to Marymount College in Salina from the college across town, Kansas Wesleyan, where he had mounted a successful career already earning five KCAC Championships in basketball and baseball.
Cochran retired from coaching after his first heart attack at the age of 48, but not from basketball. He continued running the Heart of America Sports Camps and Clinics that he began in 1971. To date, approximately 90,000 young people have participated in the camps and hundreds of coaches. Upon leaving coaching, Cochran invented the popular basketball game Pop-A-Shot.
Cochran was a good athlete in his own right. He was the starting catcher on the 1956 Olympic Exhibition Baseball Team. According to the Guinness World Records, the baseball game was played in front of the largest crowd to ever witness an amateur baseball game. The culmination of his sports career landed him in 10 different Hall of Fames including the NAIA, Kansas Sports, Graceland University, Joplin, Missouri and Kansas Wesleyan.
Although the public primarily saw Cochran through a sports lens, Cochran’s focus was his family, his faith and giving back. Cochran donated soccer balls and t-shirts to young children in Africa, created fundraisers to fight malaria in Africa and donated his Pop-A-Shot for fundraisers for many good causes. Coach Cochran leaves behind a wife Peggy, a son Steve Cochran of Salina, Susan Cochran of Chicago and Dana Cochran-Wiley of Indianapolis.
Arrangements will be in January in Joplin.
Salina Community of Christ
Attn. Steve Cochran
753 Manchester Road
Salina, KS 67401
Graceland University Athletic Scholarship Fund
C/O Paul Davis
1 University Place
Lamoni, IA 50140