Copeland’s coaching skills still the tools of his trade

After coaching for 17 years, Scott Copeland stepped into an administrative job five years ago at Liberty Hill Intermediate School. (Dana Delgao Photo)

After coaching for 17 years, Scott Copeland stepped into an administrative job five years ago at Liberty Hill Intermediate School. (Dana Delgao Photo)

By Dana Delgado

Scott Copeland may have stepped down as an active high school coach five years ago, but he is finding himself coaching more now than ever as an Assistant Principal at the Liberty Hill Intermediate School.

He is coaching so much more that  Principal Kathy Major refers to him as “our campus coach.”

“Mr. Copeland is invested deeply in the staff and our students,” said Mrs. Major. “He is able to break things down analytically like a coach and makes sure everything is working well. He wants everyone to succeed and also finds joy in everything. How important is he to our kids and our school? Let me count the ways.”

“I love these kids,” said Copeland.  “As assistant principal, kids normally see me as their enemy and I’ve had to make some hard decisions, but I always tell them I have a short term memory when it comes to discipline.  I see the best in people and teach kids to reach their potential. It’s a lot like coaching.”

From Gatesville High School to Waco Midway and Troy, as well as Florence and his hometown of Salado, he scouted and drew up more basketball game plans than he can remember. Boys and girls teams alike for 17-plus years, he relished his role as a master architect of breaking down pressing defenses and finding ways to stop potent offenses. He twice earned honors as Coach of the Year and prided himself as a defensive-minded specialist.

Copeland also taught U.S. History and World History as well as health and physical education.

It was in no way, a Johnny-come-lately dream. A youthful Copeland knew by seventh grade he wanted to be a coach. His high school experiences and success as a three-sport athlete only affirmed his aspiration as did his high school mentor and basketball and baseball coach, Phil Derek.

“He (Derek) was far more than just a coach,” Copeland said. “He laughed and was encouraging.”

Although now removed from directing his own team, Copeland still scouts for his alma mater, Salado High School, and consults coaches on a variety of matters related to the hardwoods including drills and strategy. He is also a trivia nut and enjoys his time playing golf, following the Texas Rangers professional baseball team, and spending time in the mountains of New Mexico.

“Sports have been a big part of my life,” he said. “They were my foundation for life.”

Sports may have been Copeland’s foundation, but his father Hal Copeland was his cornerstone.

“My dad was a huge influence on my personality,” he said. “Despite working so hard and earning so little, he laughed. He worked six days a week, but would always come home to see us and fix us sandwiches. He is a quiet man and a Christian who never cursed and has always led by example. Just the way he carries himself is inspiring. Everyone loves him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be half the man he is.”

Much like his father, Scott Copeland has won the respect of students and staff as a humble and caring man who brings humor and laughter in times where there are pressing challenges. This honor likely trumps all the victories he ever had on the basketball court, although the memories of some games still linger.

“I deal with people on a larger scale as an administrator,” he said. “I’m more emphatic about people’s lives because of what I’ve seen and experienced with students. I’ve learned a lot about myself at the same time.”

Principal Major said Copeland was one of the most trustworthy and dedicated persons she has ever known.

“He is a role model as a man for every kid,” Mrs. Major said. “He’s made such a tremendous difference in an unassuming way. You don’t notice him until you take him out of the equation. Then, you realize this big void.”