Frater Purchases WNBA Houston Comets Franchise
HOUSTON, Texas - To the citizens of Houston, Texas, Frater Hilton Koch (Mu-Zeta) is the chainsaw-wielding, price-slashing furniture store owner. But to Nicholls State, he is known as the fiery, over-achieving, do-it-all that earned his way onto the Colonel football team.
Now, more than ten years after he left the small roads of Thibodaux for the four lane highways of Texas, Koch is the owner of Hilton Furniture and Mattress store, and recently, a WNBA franchise.
Three weeks ago, Koch bought the Houston Comets, the sister team of the NBA's Houston Rockets for $10 million making him the owner and president of the organization and only the fifth independent owner in the entire league.
But before the bright lights of the Toyota Center and the television commercials where he can be seen using a chain saw to literally cut into prices, the New Orleans native was a student who loved sports.
"Just being a part of the Nicholls family, instilled in me how important a community plays in the formation of a person's character," Koch said. "From the first day I stepped foot on campus in 1987, I immediately felt accepted from Nicholls and the city of Thibodaux."
Koch's place on the Colonels football team actually came about because of a bet that he made with offensive lineman and friend Greg "Bull" Johnson.
"I was in Tau Kappa Epsilon and I wanted Greg to rush, so I told him that if he went through rush week, I would walk on to the football team," he said.
Johnson, although hesitant at first, went through rush week and Koch made good on his promise to walk on the team, and said he had every intention of securing a spot on the Colonels squad and one day being a starter.
Koch made the team as a scout team player his first year, but going into his second year, became a starter and was given a full scholarship.
"It was wonderful just playing football and being involved with the team," Koch said. "That time will always hold a special place in my heart."
Still to this day, former players remember the days when the 5-foot-9 Koch was the firecracker that sparked the team whenever possible and Koch says it was because he felt he needed that desire to get him to where he wanted to go in life.
"I was always the underdog, and I was always the guy that wasn't supposed to make it," he said. "When people would tell me that I couldn't do something, I wanted to prove them wrong."
Koch spent a total of six years at Nicholls from 1987 to 1992 and in that time he became TKE president, SPA president, Mr. Nicholls and was on the homecoming court. Graduating and leaving Nicholls was one of the hardest things he had to do, Koch said, because he had grown so close to so many people in his time here.
After he graduated in December 1992, Koch moved to Houston to work with his mother who was already in the furniture business. Two years later he decided that he wanted to break away from his mother and open his own store, Hilton Furniture.
But in order to open his own store he had to get a building, and he did -- by trading his Jet Ski for the key to the building.
"The landlord wanted to know what kind of collateral I had to pay for the building, and I told him the only thing I had was a Jet Ski," Koch said. "He called me the next day and wanted the Jet Ski, and that got me the key for the building and the first and last month deposit."
Eleven years later, Koch owns his own shopping center and along with his furniture store, rents out the surrounding rooms to other businesses such as State Farm Insurance and Bank of America.
Now, as owner of the Comets, Koch said God put his hand on him buying the team and through his help he could better the community around him.
"I thought back to times when I was in the St. Thomas Aquinas Center whenever I needed a break from things, and I've always felt that God has given me so much, that I believe through the team I can better somebody else's life," Koch said.
The Comets are the only team in the WNBA's 10-year history to win four straight league titles but have not won a championship since 2001. Using the mission statement of the WNBA, to "lead, inspire, create change and entertain," Koch hopes to restore the Comets.
Koch still has family that lives in the area and has returned to Thibodaux on occasion, still citing his love for the area and people in it. And for those looking to follow in Koch's footsteps, he said it is all about staying positive.
"Never quit, never quit and refuse to believe that something is impossible to accomplish," he said. "Look at me, I'm a small town guy that had big time dreams that came true because I believed that they would. And that's a fact, jack!"
Adapted from Nicholls Worth Newspaper Release. If you would like to see your chapter news here, contact Communications Coordinator Tom McAninch.