John Koza didn’t even know such an award existed until Chatfield Senior High athletic director Chad Broer told him that he had been named that 5A Jeffco League boys tennis MVP. That was in 2010 after Koza won as a No. 2 singles player.
“I was shocked at it, honestly,” Koza said.
Three seasons later, and Koza, who recently graduated from Chatfield, has won the honor three more times, making him a four-time league MVP. It’s a feat that is rather unheard of, to say the least.
“It’s quite an honor. I don’t think it’s ever been done before like an athlete winning four years in a row,” Koza said. It hadn’t been done at Chatfield. “It showed how the hard work my whole life through tennis has paid off.”
It also showed how one doesn’t always have to be an upper classman to make an impact and how one can help his team out. Koza’s been doing that for years, going undefeated in 5A Jeffco League play. He used that to finish third at No. 1 singles in the 2013 5A state tournament — the highest finish in school history — en route to being named the 2013-14 Columbine Courier Male Athlete of the Year.
Koza started playing tennis when he was 3 or 4, he said, under the watchful eye of his dad and high school coach, Mark Koza, who played collegiately at Purdue University. The years of experience really paid dividends in 2013. John Koza was 10-1 during the regular season and rallied to top Vignesh Senthivel of Mountain Vista 1-6, 7-6, 6-0 in the consolation finals at state.
And while experience and skills are a factor, Koza noted the mental aspect of the game, especially one’s belief in himself, as a driving force in his success.
“Part of it is just believing. A lot of people on the team believed that we’d do very well,” said Koza, who plans to attend the University of Arizona in the fall to study finance and entrepreneurship. “If you believe, try hard, prepare and believe that you can do it, I think it helps a lot in your success. You have to have the confidence in what you’re doing to succeed.”
Koza most definitely had that.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.
2010-11: Woody Kincaid, Columbine, cross country
2011-12: Cameron McDondle, Columbine, football
2012-13: Brian Mayberry, Columbine, wrestling (MALE)
2012-13: Kristyn Peters, Dakota Ridge, softball (FEMALE)