Soper to be honored by CHSAA

Ken Soper is a rarity.

Many young high school coaches use their experience at a small school as a stepping stone to
move to a larger school later on.

Not so with Soper.

Soper has spent 44 seasons coaching football and baseball at Dove Creek High School, which was previously named Dolores County High School.

His four-decades-plus efforts are being recognized in January by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Soper will be one of seven people inducted into the association’s 2008 Hall of Fame class.

Twenty-five of Soper’s football teams have qualified for the state playoffs. His 1975 and 1977 baseball teams won state titles.

“I didn’t think I’d be teaching or coaching that long,” Soper said. “When I started, everyone was so nice and friendly and supportive.”

That included a woman he met shortly after moving to Dove Creek. They eventually married and decided to stay in the community.

In the hundreds of football games he’s coached over the years, he has never received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“(The reward is) when the kids come back a few years later and thanks you for helping them, not only in football, but in life,” Soper said.

Soper has also been inducted into the Colorado Coaches Hall of Fame and the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

He will be honored by CHSAA on Jan. 21 in Denver along with Montbello track coach Don Gatewood, former Lakewood football coach Tom Hancock, former Douglas County and Mullen coach and administrator Don McCall, longtime Eastern Plains administrator Jim Poole, 30-year Coronado volleyball coach Joan Powell and Buena Vista three-sport athlete Matt Hemingway.

Gatewood coached Montbello track for 26 years. His teams won seven state titles and had seven other top-three finishes. Gatewood was a 100- and 220-yard dash champion at Manual in 1957.

Hancock’s Lakewood football teams won three state titles during his 15 years. He also coached wrestling and helped introduce weighlifting as part of the athletic curriculum.

McCall coached football for 34 years at Douglas County, then assisted for another six under his son, Mick, at Mullen. He also served for years as a track and basketball official.

Poole was a superintendant at Bethune for 35 years, then spent five years at Haxtun before moving to Idalia on an interim basis this year.

Powell’s Coronado volleyball teams won three state titles over 30 years. She has officiated college volleyball for 33 years.

Hemingway owns the state high jump record in all classifications at 7 feet, 4 inches and holds the state meet record of 7-2.25.

He won a silver medal in the high jump at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and is one of only three U.S. jumpers ever to clear 7-9.75.


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