Phil Bravo interviewed for a coaching and teaching job at Centaurus High School in the spring of 1991. A football player and cheerleader took part in the interview process that eventually helped him win the position.
Decades later, Bravo, who now coaches football at Monarch High School, coached their sons. But that’s been par for the course for the educator of 38 years and coach of 36.
“I love going to the store because you see alumni from Centaurus from 1992 and then, ‘Coach, by the way, you have my kid on your team.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s pretty remarkable.,’” Bravo said.
The end of the 2021 football season will mark the end of a true era in the Boulder Valley School District as Bravo has announced his intent to retire. After nearly four decades, it’s time for him to hang up his whistle.
The impact he’s made on hundreds of kids throughout the years is surely immeasurable, but one family is still feeling the effect of his service to the school and community.
Robert Ferrera played his senior season during Bravo’s first year at Centaurus in 1991 and remembered the excitement that followed as he immediately turned around a struggling program.
“Coach had a lot of passion for the game of football. He brought a lot of energy to the program and welcomed us into his family,” Ferrera said. “Our team had suffered from a few years of losing records before Coach took over the program. I recall us being the homecoming game for several opposing teams in our league that year due to our previous records. We had a pretty amazing turnaround in the fact that we went undefeated in league and made it to the state semifinals. He breathed new life into the football communities of Louisville and Lafayette.”
Thirty-six years later, that energy still runs through the Monarch community and, now, Robert’s son Zach. Zach, a senior, has played for Bravo all four years. He learned some hard lessons along the way, but the wisdom that naturally followed from decades at the helm proved true in helping develop him as an athlete.
During his freshman season, Bravo decided to move Zach to a new position instead of keeping him at fullback, where he had played his entire life prior. The move upset the young player, so his coach sat him down and told him to “suck it up.”
Zach made First-Team All-Conference at his new position the following year. He didn’t expect the news of Bravo’s retirement.
“I was kind of surprised, not going to lie,” Zach said. “I always tied the two together. MoHi football and Coach Bravo were like two peas in a pod. I thought Coach was going to be out here until he was 80 just based off of the passion he coaches with and the effort put in by him.”
Throughout his career, Bravo has boasted a 306-105 record that includes three state titles — two at Monarch in 2002 and 2012 and one at a school in California in 1990 — as well as two state runner-up finishes in 1998 and 2007.
He owes much of his success to four longtime staff members who have been by his side for nearly 20 years: Dr. Ted Kawulok, Aaron Paddock, James Daly and Phil Grace. He’ll miss seeing the boys grow into football-minded young men, but he knows it’s time to step away to pursue other goals in his life.
“Louisville, Superior, it’s unbelievable,” Bravo said. “The support we get from our community, more centralized in our booster club but broadened out into our community, they have just been the most welcoming community that I think any head coach could have ever asked for from the day I moved here in 1991 to now.”