Journeys: Alumni coach Q-and-A with … Broomfield grad Chad Cooper

Cooper has led Erie to back-to-back league titles and a trip to the 3A title game


Chad Cooper has gone from standout player in the area to one of its most successful coaches.

The 2002 Broomfield graduate took the job at Erie in 2016 following a long stint as an assistant coach at his alma mater, where he played and coached under the school’s longtime front man on the gridiron, Gary Davies.

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Erie head coach Chad Cooper. left, played at Broomfield under coach Gary Davies, later coached alongside him, and now has guided the Tigers to four straight postseason appearances.

Like his accomplished high school career as an offensive lineman, Cooper was a touted assistant coach with the Eagles. He worked his way through various positions before landing the offensive coordinator job from 2013-15. He taught history at Broomfield and now teaches both social studies and physical education at Erie.

In his four years with the Tigers, Cooper has taken them to four straight postseason appearances and back-to-back league titles in 2018 and 2019. In his second year in 2017, Erie marched all the way to the Class 3A title game before eventually falling to Palmer Ridge and former CU QB prospect Ty Evans. The year after that, it bowed out in the state semifinals to Pueblo East.

Cooper played in college at the University of Northern Colorado, and then Western State, where he was named an all-conference lineman in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

How did your coaching journey lead you to Erie? How did the job at Erie come to you and what all led you there?

“It was tough to leave Broomfield, obviously being an alumni there. I have a lot of love for that place and everything that it has done for me. In 2016, it just happened that circumstances for the Erie job opened up and I just felt like it was a good way to find my identity outside of that Broomfield tree, if that kind of makes any sense. Coach Davies retired, after I think it was 28 years— he was there for a long time. Erie opened up and I jumped at the chance. I saw the growth in Erie taking place and it reminded me of what was taking place when I was growing up in Broomfield in terms of the expansion, in terms of population and growth. I just thought it was a good fit all around. So, long story short, I jumped at taking a teaching and coaching job at the school when it did open up. It was tough to leave, especially teaching-wise. Broomfield is a great school, but I couldn’t be happier than at Erie now.”

Who are some of your main coaching influences, either in high school, college, etc., and how have they inspired you to become a coach yourself?

“I mentioned Gary Davies multiple times, obviously he’s kind of the biggest one. I was best friends with his son who is also my age, who played at Broomfield with me, and he played college football with me at Western, Ty Davies. He is the head coach at Fort Morgan now. So, Gary has got a huge influence on me and a huge influence in terms of high school and then coming back after being an assistant. I wouldn’t be where I was if it wasn’t for him. And then in college, funny story, I had four head coaches in college. Just the way it all worked out with coaches being fired and me moving around and stuff like that. And so, you know how it is, it’s kind of hard to get one coach to stick with me. I more saw things that I liked and, more so, I didn’t like with coaching influences. Four coaches in five years is a lot to go through, so I was able to pick some things out that I liked from what coaches did and ‘I don’t want to do it that way’ when I get a job. That college experience definitely helped me out big time, but Gary was the one that planted it early on in high school that there’s a future in coaching and I rose from there up until I got the head job in 2016 at Erie.”

In a profession that can have a lot of turnover and change, how do you see your future in coaching going? Is coaching at Erie or at the high school level even something you see yourself doing long term or is there something else?

“Yeah, coaching it’s a difficult profession and it takes a lot of you to be a high school head coach these days. Nothing to do with how parents are or anything like that or how kids are or how society is. It is just a year-round job. I think any good high school coach doesn’t just coach from August to whenever the end of the season is. It takes up your entire year, and if you’re going to be good at it you have to invest into it full time. Right now, I am absolutely happy with what I am doing. You know, we have had success at Erie. That absolutely helps, a little bit. Long term, I don’t know. I could see myself doing the college coaching thing or even potentially doing administration. But right now, I am absolutely happy being the head coach at Erie and I think our future is extremely bright up here with why I came here before, with the growth that we’ve had and the staff we have had at the school.”

If you can pin it down, what is your favorite moment from coaching Erie these past five seasons?

“Definitely our state title run. In 2017, we were able to put things together and were able to advance to the state title game. Our first round of that year, we beat Pueblo East in the first round who had beaten us the year before and they were coming off being a three-time state champion. We beat them in the last minute on a two-point conversion. And then, we went to Durango and were able to come from behind in the last few minutes and beat them. And then, put it all together beating Longmont at home that year in the semifinals— pretty convincingly. And we were able to go to the state championship game, faced Palmer Ridge and Ty Evans at Air Force. Good team, but we did not have enough to defeat them that day. But that was something that definitely stands out. I won’t say it came out of nowhere because we knew what we had in terms of a good team, but to go from a team the year before that was 6-4 (in the regular season) to a state championship finalist in my second year as being a head coach is definitely something that stands out. We’ve had a lot of other memories since then. We won two league titles in my last two years as well. There’s been a lot of good memories so far and hopefully we are going to continue those as we move to 4A this upcoming year.”

All of the kids and all of the players that have come and gone through your program already at Erie, what’s the main thing you hope that they took away from being a part of your program, being a part of your team?

“I hope the experience helped guide them in whatever they chose to do after high school, be it college or they hopped in professionally. I know that obviously I have been extremely affected by coaches that I have had, especially in high school that helped me into the man I am today. And I hope that the experience of being around high-character coaches, which I believe I have, and running a good program that I influence builds them into good individuals that are going to be good husbands, good wives, good community members and just good people. There’s just more, a lot more accountability if you play a high school sport. And I think that teaches kids great things about how to be successful. The memories help obviously. I still remember a lot of the memories that I had going back almost 20 years now to my high school days. And I really hope they look back and are like ‘Oh man, yeah! That was some fun times we had playing football at Erie High School’.”