Cope named 4A Slope’s top coach
With apologies to Leo Durocher, nice guys do finish first.People’s evidence “A” is Battle Mountain girls soccer coach David Cope winning the 4A Western Slope Coach of the Year Award.Having coached the Huskies boys team for 10 years, Cope took over the girls’ squad this spring and guided the ladies to their best season ever. The Huskies finished 9-5-2 overall and finished second in the league with a 9-2-1 4A Western Slope record. Under Cope’s guidance, Battle Mountain made the postseason for the first time since 2001 and hosted a playoff game, something the girls program had never accomplished before.”It’s a nice thing. I think it’s a recognition of the season the girls had,” Cope said. “Those things tend to go to the team which wins the league or someone who moves up in the league a few spots. I voted for (Steamboat head coach) Rob (Bohlmann). They went 12-0, and that’s pretty impressive,” Also impressive was Cope’s work with the Huskies this spring. Battle Mountain made the 4A postseason in 2001 with Christina Aiello, easily the most prolific goal scorer in Huskies’ soccer history. But, the team struggled the next two seasons, competing at the 4A level.
This year, the team started slow with two losses to Grand Junction Central and Fruita and a tie with Eagle Valley. But once the Huskies hit the conference slate, they found their legs. Battle Mountain, whose teams are generally known for free-wheeling offense, played rock solid defense, notching nine shutouts in league play.Battle Mountain earned a state-seeding game at home against Evergreen, losing a nail-biter, 1-0.”The only drawback to the spring was losing a little earlier than expected,” Cope said. “That game was 10 minutes too short.”Cope being Cope deferred credit for the award to two things, which naturally expanded to a list of four things.n First, credit goes to the girls themselves for their chemistry and passion. “The chemistry among the kids was crucial,” Cope said. “We’ve seen a lot of national teams underachieve because they don’t have chemistry.”n Two, he thanked assistant coach Jen Davin and JV coach Matt Steinhoff. n No. 3 goes to the Vail Valley Soccer Club, which serves as a feeder program for all of the county’s high school soccer programs. That means props to Cindy Eskwith, Lee Jones and John “Vegas” Steffens n He also thanked those who have gone before him as girls head coach – Hillary Fiveash and Kate O’Connor.”Somewhere way down there is the actual coaching,” Cope joked. “It’s easy to overestimate the impact of coaching.”Whatever Cope says, he is being modest. He had great bookend seasons this school year during what was likely his most difficult year in coaching. Last fall, the Huskies boys went 10-7, including a monumental win over Steamboat. In the middle of all the success, Cope, about the least controversial coach the school has, got suspended for the state-seeding game for pulling his JV team off the field in Glenwood to protect his players from a volatile situation. Assistant coach Charry Morris and his players beat Canyon City for him in that game to return him to the bench for the state playoffs for the second season in a row.
Despite the Huskies’ turnaround this spring, Cope was still being pummeled from all sides for his decisions on playing time. “It’s a nice honor,” Cope said. “It’s somewhat of a redemption for the way that thing worked out in the fall. There was some uncertainty going into the girls’ season as to how it was going to work out. But it worked out well for the team. It worked well for my family. You have to follow your passion and do what you love.”Cope’s skills are not lost on his colleagues.”Obviously, he brings his knowledge and skills to the field, but it’s how he coaches the kids off the field,” Huskies athletic director Fred Koetteritz said. “He spends as much time on how the players carry themselves off the field as they do on the field. He sets up study time, so his players don’t fall behind because of the travel. He leaves no detail unnoticed.””The first thing is any time Dave is recognized, I’m pleased,” Vail Mountain School coach Bob Bandoni said. “He works hard and earnestly at his craft. I would add that his team’s laudable record may confuse the real essence of Dave.What people don’t know about him is that he sees sports in the context of our lives as vessel for learning greater life lessons. A lot of the folks in the coaching ranks would be well-served if they could learn these type of lessons.”
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