By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (June 6, 2015) — After 40 seasons, Stephenville coaching legend Mike Copeland will not coach football this fall, but he is not quite ready to announce his retirement.
The Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor member and winner of the THSCA Tom Landry Award, Copeland hopes to return to Stephenville High School and continue to coach girls track and field.
“I told the kids the last day of school and I told (Coach Winder) months ago so that he would have time to fill my position on his coaching staff,” said Copeland, an assistant coach on five Yellow Jacket state championship teams and head coach from 2000-2002. “I’ve coached football all of my adult life and I love it. I just can’t be out in that August heat another year, and I don’t want to do it if I’m not going to be able to give it 100 percent.”
Copeland was defensive coordinator under current Baylor head coach Art Briles when Stephenville won four state titles in the 1990s. He became head coach when Art Briles left for the college ranks following the 1999 4A Division I title. Copeland was immediately named head coach and guided Stephenville on three straight playoff runs before announcing his retirement.
Copeland resurfaced as a volunteer coach for the junior high six-man team at Morgan Mill, and when Joseph Gillespie was promoted to head coach at Stephenville in 2008, Copeland joined his staff.
The fifth state title came in 2012 with Copeland coaching cornerbacks. Stephenville has reached the state quarterfinals six times in seven seasons since his return.
But if Copeland never coached football, his career would still be legendary.
He coached Stephenville girls basketball teams to nine straight district titles and four regional finals appearances, and once guided the Honeybees to 13 consecutive district titles in track and field. He has coached seven individual state champions in track and field, most recently two-time champ Bayleigh Chaviers in the girls 800 meter in 2013 and 2014.
“I hope they can work it out so I can come back and coach track and field,” said Copeland. “I’m not ready to give it up just yet, so hopefully they can work something out for me.”