All of Cotter's regalia is descended from a time when pipers
used to lead the Scottish army into battle with their haunting,
soul-stirring music. Always a part of Cotter's uniform are a
small sword lashed to this hip and the Sgian Dudh - or black
knife - strapped to his leg.
Jaci Hall, Cotter's mother and agent, said "the sound
of bagpipes was intended to motivate the troops and frighten
"It's all part of getting the blood flowing," Cotter said.
"It has such a tribal sound. They would nail the pipers first.
The Sgian Dudh was the piper's last defense."
When San Jose State University women's rugby coach Karl Laucher
happened to hear Cotter playing his pipes, he got an idea. "There
are a lot of things that stir our passions," Laucher said, "but
the pining of the pipes is the music of patriotism. It goes
to the primal roots of our soul. You've got to fight for it."
Laucher invited Cotter to inspire his players at the recent
rugby match against Santa Clara. But his plan backfired. It
was Santa Clara's team that was roused by the music. The game
ended in a 46-0 massacre against the Spartans.
Santa Clara hired Cotter on the spot.
Laucher hopes to get Cotter back next year and blamed his team's
loss on being young and short two players. "There is no doubt
that I have a fighting band of rugby players," Laucher said.
"But the bagpipes weren't enough to overcome the greatest of
Hall said St. Patrick's Day is the most popular day of the
year for bagpiping. You don't need to draw blood to hear some
piping on that day. "St. Patrick's Day is like my New Years,"
Although he has played the bagpipes since he was seven and
won Northwest champion honors in a recent contest in Long Beach,
Cotter is still in awe of the instrument. "It has an awfully
strange power," Cotter said. "It reaches deep down and touches
people. I can make people cry."