Championship Cookies Mean Community

One of the first congratulatory texts I received after the Varsity Field Hockey Team won the 2022 Colorado State Championship on November 1 was from Colorado Academy Executive Chef Paul Worley. Paul was excited for Coach Scott, the girls, and also the fact that he had scheduled 1,200 “championship cookies” to be delivered the following Tuesday for lunch, to celebrate the team’s accomplishment. The fact that Chef Paul was able to send a similar text after Boys Soccer won their State Championship, ten days later, was even more remarkable.

Two sets of championship cookies in less than two weeks.

It has become a fun CA tradition for the entire school to celebrate CHSAA titles with championship cookies at a lunch soon after the state victory—26 times in the past 11 years, and it never gets old. I’m grateful to Chef Paul and his excitement for continuing the legacy.

I’m also thankful for the efforts of Boys Soccer Head Coach, Gabe Bernstein, and Field Hockey Head Coach, Veronica Scott, for their unwavering dedication and attention to detail. There were many times during the fall when Veronica or Gabe and I would sit down to discuss a wide range of topics, from tactics, to personnel, to team dynamics. Never during those meetings would either leader try to bypass the process or speed up critical foundational skills that were essential to their success during their playoff runs. Never did either coach try to trade the integrity of the program for a short-term win, or look the other way when a disciplinary issue may have arisen. Much as in the academic program, CA athletics promotes the long view. Even with a steady hand from the head of the program, the championship trophy (and championship cookies) are not always captured by the team with the greatest work ethic.

Gabe’s and Veronica’s journeys this past fall could be connected to their most recent championship seasons—the fall of 2019 for Field Hockey and the spring of 2021 for Boys Soccer. The 2022 Field Hockey Championship marks the fourth time Scott has led the Mustangs to the mountaintop in her nine years at the helm. Bernstein has guided his team to three State Championships in his 11 years leading the boys. Throughout all of those years, the consistent and relentless effort by these two coaches has been phenomenal. 

The fact of the matter is that Gabe and Veronica have accomplished their success through developing players within the CA community while attracting talented players to apply to CA. Success attracts success. However, that success is not immediate or elastic, and a handful of players does not make a championship team. Quality program depth, which creates intense daily competition, is part of the secret sauce to winning. Gabe and Veronica also mix former champions and their success with new players and their skills, hopes, and dreams.

Every year, coaches like Gabe and Veronica have to go back to the drawing board and try to put the puzzle back together with new pieces. The puzzle never looks the same, and each year a new picture and shape evolve through the masterful work of the head of program. Top coaches like Gabe and Veronica enjoy the challenge and fun of melding these new and old pieces together, and, with some CA magic, good things happen to those players who commit to the hard work and the process. Victories do not happen overnight or for those who only wish and hope. Victories occur, sometimes, for those who commit and work hard. I guarantee Veronica and Gabe have already started planning and preparing for the fall of 2023.

People have asked me often over the past few weeks how we are successful so often at CA. My answer is consistent: “It’s not easy, it takes a lot of hard work by the coaches and players, and we focus on today.” Our goals are to stack and achieve a number of short-term accomplishments and successes over the long term on the practice field, in the weight room, in the classroom, and in the community. The end result often takes care of itself. The long view is important, but winning today is critical. Our heads of program also teach more than the game. Our heads of program use their respective sports to teach our CA athletes to be hard working, humble, selfless, team-first, and tough.

I look forward to watching the winter season for Girls and Boys Basketball, Swimming, Ice Hockey, and Climbing unfold. We will attack each day and practice with the intention of getting better today. Check the CA website for upcoming games. I invite you to support our CA athletes as they represent your community with passion, strong sportsmanship, and grit. Go Mustangs!