David Cope: Winning isn't everything

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I've always enjoyed trips to Steamboat. As a coach just down the road in Eagle County, I make the trip several times a year up Colorado Highway 131 and into your beautiful town. Over the years, my Battle Mountain High School teams have suffered far more defeats in Steamboat than we have enjoyed victories. After our most recent visit, however, I was dismayed to check online and see the headline "Sad ending to a sad season." We run a risk of losing perspective if we send a message to adolescents that the quality of an experience is determined solely by its outcome.

Our most recent trip did result in a victory, and we were thrilled to finish our season with a 12-0 mark in the Western Slope League, matching the Steamboat girls team led by Rob Bohlmann last spring. We plan to never lose to them again and will work hard, but reality tells us that the nature of high school sports is cyclical and that at some point we will suffer another defeat. We will, however, always judge our seasons on the process by which we strove for victories and the relationships formed among the players. I have been on the other side of such seasons, with a team that was 2-12-2. In some ways, we did a better job coaching those teams than we did this year. We just have better players this year. I noticed that while waiting for the JV game to end before our varsity game in Steamboat. Four of our best players had set up cones for goals and were playing 2-v-2. You can't coach that type of passion and love for the game, and it is not a surprise when kids like that win games. The game that night was closer than it might have been, given the comparative results of the teams coming into the game. Steamboat took an early lead and produced an excellent performance, so taxing our team that the next day we suffered our first defeat of the season. Both games against Steamboat for us this year were close because of the competitive spirit instilled in the Steamboat team and due to the astute tactical adjustments made by one of the finest high school coaches in Colorado, Rob Bohlmann.

Rob has done countless things to put Steamboat on the soccer map nationally and internationally. I intend to describe just a few here. Rob's teams established a benchmark for excellence in high school soccer in the mountains of Colorado. This has raised the bar for all of our teams in the Western Slope. Rob's camps have provided quality coaching for more than a decade, bringing coaches and players to Steamboat from all over the world. These camps also produce summer business for the town and exposure for local players trying to catch the eye of visiting coaches. Rob has also taken players to Europe and given them a unique cultural experience. Combine Rob's classy and well-balanced approach to competitive athletics, with his A license and a track record of success in producing quality people and great teams from his program, and you have plenty of reasons to support Rob and the soccer programs at Steamboat Springs High School.

Please don't be tempted to criticize Rob and his coaching staff on the basis of something so transitory as results. This is not the professional game. Rob is an educator, and a first-class one. Coaches of Rob Bohlmann's quality are rare.

I hope to see you all next spring.

David Cope
Battle Mountain High School

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