Copley soccer coach Boerema collects wins, memories
By Jeff Gorman
COPLEY — Doug Boerema hasn’t taken the time to celebrate his 200th win as the Copley High School boys soccer coach. He’s too busy celebrating life.
“I know how fragile life is,” he said. “I lost my sister when I was young, and I lost my mother to cancer three years ago.”
Also, Boerema survived his own bout with cancer two years ago.
“I had melanoma near my eye,” he said. “Fortunately, the doctors were able to get it all. I tell my players that when you step on the field, you don’t know if you’ll get the next five minutes of the game or your life.”
Boerema captured his 200th win when Copley defeated Stow High School 1-0 Sept. 8.
“After our first win, (assistant coach) Jason Dimit said I was getting close,” he said. “I didn’t think about 200 wins again until they made the announcement at the end of the game.”
The highlight of Boerema’s career was the Indians’ state championship in 1994.
“That season was one in a million,” he said. “It was a really hard-working, talented group of guys. I was able to experiment with different systems all year long.”
That team was able to overcome a pair of losses when Boerema changed over to a 3-5-2 system.
“The players held a meeting by themselves and said we had to stick together,” the coach said. “We won seven straight games. I never knew they had that meeting until the end of the season.”
The biggest hurdle Copley had to overcome that year was Bay Village High School in the state semifinals. Bay had eliminated the Indians from the postseason twice in a row.
“It was a cold game with sleet, and then it started to snow,” Boerema recalled, “but we were playing like the weather was in the 70s. We were moving the ball right through them and won 3-0.”
Even the state title win over Kettering Alter High School had its share of drama.
“We gave up a goal early, and then we came back to beat them 2-1,” Boerema said. “It was a fantastic journey.”
Some of the players from the 1994 team, such as Dave Antal, Mike Apple, Steve Bedarski and Ryan Blackwell, have gone on to coach or play semi-professsional ball.
Boerema said a strong work ethic is one of the most important things he looks for in his players.
“I would hope that someone would look at my teams and say they have discipline and good character,” he said. “We try to put everything we have into every minute.
“The biggest frustration is when you have a talented player who doesn’t put forth the effort,” he added. “I would rather have someone with less skill who works like gangbusters. That’s the kind of player who I really enjoy coaching.”
Boerema said Dimit showed that kind of heart in the 1994 season.
“Jason collapsed in that semifinal game against Bay,” he said. “His muscles quit on him. He was on empty, but he told me, ‘I can do it. Just get me up.’ I love that never-say-die attitude.”
As Boerema looks to the future, he is encouraged by the strong support of the soccer programs in Copley.
“Having a good youth soccer program really helps,” he said. “There are some good little players out there who will do well in the future.”
Copley next will play Revere High School at home Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.