Vail Valley Character: David Cope |

Vail Valley Character: David Cope

Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyDavid Cope is a history teacher and soccer coach at Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail, Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-In the Vail Daily, he is Battle Mountain soccer coach David Cope.

But first he is a husband (married to Kathleen Cope since 1994) and father (Emily, 11, and Casey, 8). Second, he is an American history teacher, who also has taught geography and health at Battle Mountain. And then there is the soccer-coach thing, not to mention 20 years of teaching skiing at Vail.

There’s a reason why the soccer thing comes up so often. Starting his 22nd season ” his sixth with the girls’ team along with 16 years in the fall with the boys ” his teams are postseason regulars and have a combined six league titles to their credit.

But enough about Cope the coach.

Vail Daily: How’d you come out to Eagle County?

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David Cope: I graduated from college (Union, N.Y., in 1988) and had no other plans, but to try Colorado for a year. I did no job interviews my senior year. I was thinking I’d flip some burgers, teach skiing or do anything that would get me a ski pass. In fact, my family had come out to Beaver Creek the first year (1980-81 season) when they had just the bubble. I remember because it was Easter weekend and two people skied by me in the buff, just wearing rabbit ears. I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to move to this place.’

“I went to the ski-instructor hiring academy. I was lucky to be hired and started teaching right away. It sort of fit in with my coaching soccer camps at college. I was coaching kids in soccer, so I figured I could teach kids to ski.”

VD: So it’s been more than a year?

DC: I think it’s kind of interesting when you realize you’ve spent more than half your life in one place. I lived here longer than anywhere else because my family moved at various stages. My fifth year here, I realized I’d lived here longer than I’d been in college. Then you’re kids are born here and you’re like ‘Whoa.'”

VD: How’d you meet Kathleen?

DC: “Kathleen was a new-hire children’s ski instructor, so in a sense, I was fishing off the company pier. She was teaching at the children’s ski school in Lionshead then. It was the fall of 1990 and we started dating, and we were married din the summer of 1994.

VD: From teaching on the slopes to the class room?

DC: So I was teaching skiing in the fall of 1991 when the assistant coach (of soccer at Battle Mountain) came open. I decided that (academic) teaching was my thing so I started going down to CU during the summers. I did my student-teaching in 1995, and in the summer of 1996, (then-Battle Mountain principal) Mark Strakbein gave me a call and said they had an opening. I used to teach skiing full-time and substitute-teach part time, and then I flip-flopped.”

VD: What do you like about history?

DC: “My favorite thing about history is always linking it to current events. I think of big things done by government and I’m relishing what Obama is doing. I am a believer in the public sector doing things, and that’s been out of vogue for 30 years, but it’s coming back.

“Think about the Louisiana Purchase and about the late 1860s when we built the Transcontinental Railroad 50 years later. Then we built the Panama Canal 50 years later, and 50 years later, we put a man on the moon.

“Fifty years later, we are now heading into another decade when maybe the public sector might lead us to great accomplishments. Who knows what it will be? Energy independence, rescuing the economy, leading the Middle East to democracy?

“I think Mark Twain said, ‘History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.'”

VD: If you could be one historical figure, who would you be?

DC: “Mandela after he got out of prison or M.L.K. before he was shot. I think that’s the problem with great historical figures. Take Bobby Kennedy or J.F.K., they meet with some tragedy. Maybe, that’s what pulls them along. So that’s why I enjoy cruising along in the Vail Valley, taking about historical figures, instead of being one.

“Woody Allen was quoted something to the effect of ‘How would you like to be remembered?’ And he said, ‘I would prefer to go on living in my apartment.'”

VD: What’s the future of teaching?

DC: “A lot of what we can do can be replicated by video, Internet and Twitter. But I think the essence of learning, though, is in the discussions and so I don’t think the role of the teacher going back to Socrates is going to just disappear into words on a screen, unless someone can give it life.

“I always think there’ll be a role for a face in front of a classroom. That might be naive. Sometimes, I think some students wish I would just text them the major points.”

VD: One soccer question ” how is Huskies soccer going to do in 2009?

DC: “I’m always optimistic, champions of the West. We’re the reigning champions with the girls and we need to get our trophy back on the boys’ side.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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