STEPHENVILLE (February 8, 2015) — Coach Art Briles came home Saturday evening for a long overdue celebration of his accomplishments while at Stephenville High School, and the event, a fundraiser for Erath County United Way, was a huge hit.
The crowd stretched the occupancy of City Hall at City Limits to its capacity as people bearing titles like state representative, mayor, university president, as well as the majority in attendance who bore the best title of the evening – “Just a friend/fan of Art Briles.”
Briles, who won four state titles while at Stephenville, has truly become the stuff of “Legend” as his football career continues to advance to this day with him leading the Baylor Bears to back-to-back Big 12 championships and national prominence.
Saturday evening wasn’t about Briles’ accomplishments in the college ranks that have included stops at Texas Tech, Houston and now Baylor, but instead about the influence and leadership he brought to Stephenville.
Former state senator Bob Glasgow opened the evening speaking about the impact of the “Briles family” upon the community of Stephenville and the effect it had throughout the schools.
“I am still amazed that even today I see the effects that the Briles family had on our community,” Glasgow said. “The influence that Art had on this community has now spread throughout the nation.”
Glasgow explained “An Evening with Art Briles” was an event which was long overdue. Briles’ departure from Stephenville was on a fast timetable, and scheduling throughout the years has not made such an event possible until Saturday’s function that was the brainchild of United Way’s Lisa Scroggins.
Glasgow gave way to the evening’s master of ceremonies, coach Mike Copeland, who served as Briles’ defensive coordinator for those four state titles, and who also was head coach at Stephenville after Briles’ departure.
Copeland provided a bevy of stories including several related in Briles’ top selling book “Looking Up: My Journey From Tragedy to Triumph.” But, it was Copeland’s insights into Briles and his coaching style away from the public eye that testified to his love and respect for his friend. That didn’t mean Copeland wasn’t going to have a little fun.
“If you’ve read his book, I’m going to set the stories straight today,” Copeland said before recalling a story about a three-man golf scramble involving Briles, Mike Lebby (head coach in Dublin at the time) and himself.
“The bad thing about it was we all three thought we were the “A” player.” Copeland recalled. “The event was held in Rising Star (or some other big town) and a lady came out explaining her husband had only one leg and therefore teed off on the women’s tee box.”
The woman in charge felt Copeland (who was just one arm) should also be allowed to tee up from the lady’s box. Copeland, a pretty decent ball striker, let her know he has been playing golf his whole life and he wasn’t about to hit off the women’s tee box.
“I’m the “A” player in this group!” Copeland declared. Once the lady walked away Briles began to chide Copeland, letting his pride get in the way and declaring they “could have won it” if Copeland had agreed. The story drew laughter. as did several throughout the remainder of the evening. There were also plenty of heartfelt moments along the way.
“Coach you are the greatest ‘dream maker’ in the world and we all greatly appreciate it, Copeland said.
Below are scenes from the event and Briles comments on the evening.