|08-05-2012, 08:44 AM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Anyone here play high school ball for Coach Soper/Dove Creek? Get a load of this Colorado story.....
DOVE CREEK — Two wins. A matter of several more drives into the end zone. A few more kicks splitting the uprights. That was all Ken Soper, the head coach for nearly a half century in this town, needed to become the winningest high school football coach in Colorado.
But he didn't get that chance.
A school board dismissed him just shy of that record, for reasons that haven't been revealed. And now, this one-time pinto-bean capital of the world, whose latest motto is "Together We Thrive," is instead divided by strife.
This is a story about football. But it's also about the nature of conflict in a no-traffic-light community that is so tightly interwoven, it's impossible to walk into the few offices and businesses
Ken Soper plans to be at all of this fall's football games at the Dove Creek field where the scoreboard bears his name. He said it's still his duty to support the players. (AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)
here and not encounter people who are cousins, in-laws, exes, nieces or offspring of one another.
It's hard to find any adults who didn't once play football, basketball or baseball under Soper, who didn't toe the strict line in one of his American Government classes, or who don't have kids or grandkids who have done one or both. This man, with his Oklahoma-farmboy manners and old-school formality, is a respected institution in Dove Creek.
His legacy was honored locally last month when he was chosen as grand marshal for the annual Pick 'n Hoe parade — in spite of his protestations that he's not the sort to be paraded around — and rode through town on a float covered with the Dove Creek Bulldogs' blue and gold.
Now, Soper is also a lightning rod.
"Oh, it's just a disaster. It just blows my mind," said Rod Tanner, co-owner of one of the largest businesses in town, Midland Bean Co., and one of the very few here of any age who call Soper "Kenny" rather than "Mr. Soper" or "Coach Soper."
How such a saga hit a town of 730 is a tale rife with questions but lacking clear answers. The only thing everyone here knows well is that this is no pint-sized Penn State scandal. There are no allegations of that sort to explain the dismissal of a 74-year-old man who had 305 football wins and was about to cap off a life devoted to coaching with an attention-getting state rec-ord. All he needed was those two victories to surpass the 306 wins of Pat Panek, who coached at Denver East/Machebeuf from 1939 to 1977.
The board and the superintendent of the Dolores County School District say they like and respect Soper but that they did what was best for the students and for the football program. Superintendent Bruce Hankins, who took that job a year and a
Dolores County School District Superintendent Bruce Hankins pauses while talking about the school board's decision not to retain longtime Dove Creek football coach Ken Soper. Soper, 74, had been the high school's football coach since 1963. (AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)
half ago, said he didn't even know Soper was about to break that record. Anyway, Hankins noted, anyone can break a record if they stay in something long enough.
Soper supporters call that sheer thoughtlessness. They suspect Soper's dismissal was the result of a personal vendetta. They are so mad that they have submitted a recall petition.
The wording of the petition must be approved by Dolores County Clerk LaRita Randolph, wife of school-board president Travis Randolph. She said her husband's position will not affect her work as the clerk, which is to certify the language in the petition. Once she gives that approval, Soper backers can gather signatures in hopes of recalling five of the seven school-board members. The clerk would then certify whether the signatures are legitimate. If a recall is successful, they plan to go after Hankins' job and then reinstate Soper, who is ready and willing to take up his clipboard again.
Last edited by Meck77; 08-05-2012 at 08:47 AM..