STEPHENVILLE (May 30, 2018)– After coaching since 1969, Stephenville athletic director Michael Copeland retires at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Copeland has seen Stephenville High School through all five state football championships, track championships and more.
“I have loved Stephenville with all my heart,” Copeland said. “It’s my and Becky’s home.”
Since beginning his career here as a position coach, Copeland has been defensive coordinator, head football coach and athletic director at SHS. He’s also been head girls’ basketball coach and head girls’ track coach and coached tennis, golf and cross country.
“I’ve loved coaching girls,” Copeland said. “They are fierce competitors. The Honeybees have always been really, really good, and of course, I’ve enjoyed coaching football because both my boys played while I was coaching. I really don’t have a favorite. Whatever sport is in session, I guess that is my favorite at that time.”
He also taught American history and government. Copeland said he loved teaching government, and he enjoyed teaching students he wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“I hope that if you ask any of my students, they would tell you I was a really good teacher,” Copeland said. “I worked really hard at being a great teacher. Coaches ought to be great teachers.”
Copeland’s favorite memories include winning the first football State Championship in 1993, advancing to regionals in basketball and coaching his nine State Track Champions.
“I had been here 25 years before we won the state championship,” Copeland said. “And then four came pretty quick. That certainly was a special time. They are all special to me in one way or another.”
The greatest changes — in sports and in the classroom — are due to technology in Copeland’s opinion. Whether it is breaking down film after a game or using iPads in the classroom, Stephenville High School has “come a long way.”
“I think it gives our children an opportunity to compete in the job market at the highest level because of all the tech training they have in junior high and high school and elementary,” Copeland said. “It’s amazing.”
While Copeland has loved his time at Stephenville ISD, he believes that SISD superintendent Matt Underwood needs an athletic director that will work from the start to the finish of the bond.
“When you’ve done something your whole life, it is hard to step away,” Copeland said. “I know I can’t do three years. I’m elderly, and it’s time for somebody that can finish up what we started here. I thought it was time for the best of the school.”
After retirement, Copeland plans on spending more time with his wife, Becky Copeland. They plan on traveling to the Northeast in the fall to look at the changing leaves.
“I’ve had the best spouse in the world,” Copeland said. “She has shared me with every person in this town. She and I are going to do some things that we have always talked about and never done.”
Copeland most loved seeing the smile on his students’ faces when they succeeded at what many thought they never could.
“I know at some point in time people my age wonder sometimes about whether their life made a difference,” Copeland said. “I never wonder about that. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I made a difference in their lives. If I were starting all over again, there is not anything that I would do different. I taught my classroom to the best of my ability. I taught my athletes sportsmanship, character and integrity, how to win. I feel good about all of those things.”