Dennis Cochems, father of two Vandals, was awarded the Dad of the Year Award Dec. 2 during the halftime show of the University of Idaho vs. Georgia State football game.
“He treats this school like his own. I see him having more Vandal pride than half the students in my classes,” Dennis’ son, Cameron, wrote in his application essay.
Cameron and his brother Connor, both seniors at UI, accompanied their dad out onto the field, where Kathy Bernard, executive director of the Office of Alumni Relations, presented the award.
This award is given to one father every Dads’ Weekend, and Kristina Godinez, Dads’ Weekend committee chair for the Student Alumni Relations Board (SArb), said the board was proud to carry on the tradition.
“My dad shouldn’t be dad of the year. He should be dad of the decade,” Cameron wrote in his essay.
Godinez said the winner of the award is decided based on the essay written by the student. She said the student must explain the impact their dad has made in their life and how he inspires them.
The award is a way for the SArb to shine a light on fathers who go above and beyond to be there for their children, and there is no better time to do so than during Dads’ Weekend, Godinez said.
“Thinking of who my dad is, and of all the things he’s done in his life, and what kind of amazing person he is, I just hope I’m half the man he is,” Cameron wrote in his essay. “I can’t think of any person more deserving of this award.”
Cameron wrote about how his father had a tough life as a child growing up in a dangerous area of San Bernardino, California, but he rose above all obstacles to pursue an education at his local college where he met his wife.
Cameron wrote that he admired his father’s job at the Orange County Juvenile Hall, as well as the time he spent with his children instead of taking time for himself.
Dennis was presented with a plaque as well as an autographed Vandal football, which he held with pride while taking photos with his two sons.
Since Dads’ Weekend took place at a different time of year than normal, the students of SArb had to work extra hard this year to put together a new schedule of events to accommodate the weather. The change was both fun and challenging for the students, Godinez said.
“He’s been to about 10 football games over my college career, and he’s hoping to see his first win this weekend against Georgia State,” Cameron wrote in his essay.
Dennis’ wish came true as UI beat Georgia State 37-12.
Nicole Etchemendy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org