Erie's Chad Cooper gave his team a goal during the offseason: to be a team that everyone looks at as one of the top teams in Class 3A. A physical brand of football, coupled with a high energy coaching style from Cooper, has Erie undefeated to start the season. Cooper's team has won two straight top-10 matchups to climb the rankings. Two weeks ago, Erie held an explosive Silver Creek team to 10 points. Then, last week, the Tigers beat a top-five team in Berthoud. Erie has yet another test this week with an upcoming date on Thursday versus Holy Family. Cooper coaches for the fulfillment of impacting kids with life lessons through sports. He is this week's Denver Broncos high school football Coach of the Week. The Broncos coach of the week is selected in partnership with the Broncos, CHSCA, and the InSideOut Coaching Initiative, which seeks to transform the current win-at-all-costs sports culture.
Years as head coach: 2 (12-5 overall)
Previous stops: Broomfield linebackers and JV head coach/defensive coordinator (2007-08); Broomfield TE and JV head coach/offensive coordinator (2009-10); Broomfield offensive line coach and run game coordinator (2011-12); Broomfield offensive line coach, offensive coordinator (2013-15); Erie head coach (2016-present)
Q: Why did you get into coaching?
Cooper: I got into coaching because I had a lot of influential coaches growing up. I played football and ran track, and I had a lot of personal growth because of the coaching that I had. I believe that sports encourage personal growth for individuals. Coaches have a major impact on the lives of kids. I wanted to have that impact on kids. I love working with kids, I just love the personalities that kids have. In my opinion, those life lessons that kids learn in high school years will have a huge impact on the rest of their life.
Q: Why do you coach the way that you do?
Cooper: I think one way to describe that is that I'm a passionate person. I really have a lot of empathy for what my players are going through, and I'm a younger coach, so I think that works in my favor. I can understand and empathize what kids are going through. Try to be a good figure in their lives. Work with them, give them some life lessons.
Q: Going into your kids' perspectives, what would you say it's like to be coached by you?
Cooper: I would say energetic and positive. You come to any of our practices, I try to have not just myself, but my entire staff energetic and upbeat. We love to play music at our practices. I really think kids thrive off of positive energy. That helps them achieve success in athletics and for anything else. My hope is that all my kids would say that same message: energetic and positive. We try to preach that throughout the entire program with all the coaches.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories coaching?
Cooper: Well, this year has had a lot of them. The Silver Creek game a couple weeks ago was definitely one memory that stands out. Erie high school had never beat Silver Creek up until that point, so being a part of the first team that was able to do that. But then following up last week also with a win against a top-five team in Berthoud. Two weeks in a row where we had some really good memories. I was an assistant coach at Broomfield for nine years, and there was a lot memories within that, but definitely this year has been a lot of positive memories.
Q: To start off the season undefeated, that's obviously huge. What does that say about you as a coach and your team?
Cooper: It's a testament not only to what I'm doing, I think it's a testament to what the kids are doing. Being in my second year (coaching), I think having a whole offseason and a whole summer, I really think the kids have done a great job of buying in. It's led to the success that we've had. You don't win without players, everyone knows that. So, really the success that we've had is a testament to the work that they put in this offseason, and everything that they're doing right now.
Q: What was your goal coming into this season? What were you telling the kids all summer?
Cooper: Last year was a step in the right direction. We made the playoffs, we competed with Pueblo East in the first round. This year, we wanted to be relevant in the state. We wanted to be a team that everyone looked upon as one of the best teams within 3A. Being a physical team that runs the ball and plays really aggressive defense that causes turnovers. Physicality, being a physical team, was something we really preached all offseason. With that, our strength and conditioning program was a huge emphasis during the offseason. Trying to be in shape and wear teams out with our physicality and our conditioning.
Story credit: Cannon Casey / CHSAANow.com
Photo credit: John David