As Caitlin Koch listened to the judge’s feedback on The X-Factor, the new talent showcase on Fox, she was told, “No more rugby,” by notoriously harsh judge, Simon Cowell. Regardless of what the self-aware and abrasive Cowell may want her to do, Saturday will always be a rugby day for Koch.
That said, it is probably a good idea for Caitlin to take a short reprieve from the game, at least for the time being, as she has a tendency to “scream crazy and lose voice after games,” while playing scrumhalf for Buffalo women’s rugby team. With the upcoming “Boot Camp” on the show, she will need all the vocal power she has.
Caitlin began singing in her local church folk group with her father when she was just three years old. Her mother became tired of watching her during the services so she sent Caitlin to her father in the folk group. Caitlin had a good voice and sang “for fun” until she was 15 when she won the Buffalo Idol. As a result of her victory she was given the opportunity to sing at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, opening up for Avril Lavigne. Her performance and her signing of a three-year recording contract with Audio Magic Studios gave her the inspiration to pursue a career as a professional singer.
Any rugby fan that happened to be watching The X-Factor must have been delighted to hear Caitlin proudly announce that she is a rugby player and coach, it was how she identified herself and an obvious point of pride for Caitlin. The sport she has grown to love does not have the same personal family background that her passion for singing does, but it has a strong foundation in her life indeed.
Caitlin began playing rugby when she was a junior at Orchard Park High School. Her decision to play came about after a falling out with the school’s basketball program, and just like singing, she was good at rugby and decided to stick with it. Her competitive nature and love for the physicality of rugby allowed her to quickly excel at the sport. She was named to the New York State Select Side and the Northeast Rugby Union Under-19 team in 2006/2007 and also played for Canisus College and said, “At one point I was seriously thinking about dropping all my other activities and focusing all my efforts on rugby and making the Women’s Eagles National team.”
When asked about her personal attraction to rugby, Caitlin said, “I just love the freedom you have at any position. It is the toughest sport out there, and once you get the fundamentals down you can really focus on your specific responsibilities.”
Along with the plethora of skills required to compete at the highest level Caitlin enjoys the pure competition of a match. “It’s sports in general, I enjoy being competitive,” she said while speaking of the lessons she has learned from rugby, “The competition creates an uncommon motivation within you, you have to be yourself and not follow the crowd in order to play at the highest level.”
Despite her recent propulsion into the national spotlight, Caitlin said she still plans to coach the Orchard Park High School Women’s Rugby Team this coming spring, “It’s not a matter of if, but when I will be coaching. People in the sport are ridiculously hard-working and I also plan on playing as soon as I can. I love it.” Caitlin’s passion for the sport has become contagious, at least for one other family member. Her niece will be one of her players this spring for the Orchard Park High School Girl’s Rugby team.
Although it looks as if she wont be playing rugby soon, the attitude and focus she brings to a rugby match will be ever-present. Everyone has a different pre-performance ritual whether it for singing, dancing, or sports related. For Caitlin’s pre-singing performance ritual she acts as if she is heading in to a physical rugby match. “I have an athlete’s mindset,” said Caitlin on her ritual, “I use all my energy and put it in to the performance. I pace back and forth and stretch as if backstage is a pre-match warm up.” True to her love for the game, rugby never leaves Caitlin’s mind.
Regardless of the path she chooses, Caitlin has an extremely promising future ahead of her. Whether she wins The X-Factor or not, she will continue to sing and as long as she is away from rugby there will be a fire inside to make her way back to the pitch. In an inspired tone she said, “If I am away from rugby for too long I will wake up in the morning and have this feeling that I need to play, I just can’t get enough of it.”