Robert Koopmann has learned two valuable lessons over the course of a 33-year coaching career. Patience is a virtue and life is good in Friendswood.
Patience became a reality when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in late August/early September.
Friendswood was one of the hardest areas hit by Harvey which impacted a lot of families.
When the players got back together after the storm, Koopmann knew that it was important for his team to bond together as a result of the hurricane and the players needed to share in their support of one another as how each was impacted.
The Mustangs opened the season against a substitute opponent in Barbers Hill and lost 45-28. “The mistake I made is that I should have never played that first football game,” Koopmann said. “We weren’t ready mentally or physically. …Our kids had been working in houses from sunup until sundown and then coming to practice. We just weren’t ready.”
But the team used that as a valuable lesson and became a different team following that loss. It probably bonded them more in a loss than in a victory.
Friendswood went on to qualify for the playoffs, won their first two games in great wins over Pearland Dawson and Summer Creek before eventually falling to Class 6A Div. II state champion Cy-Fair.
For this reason, and deservedly so, coach Koopmann was named Galveston County “Coach of the Year.”
Following an 18-year apprenticeship under former head coach Steve Van Meter, those two lessons crossed paths when Koopmann was named the athletic director and head football coach at Friendswood High School in 2012.
Koopmann’s patience was rewarded after turning down several opportunities that would have lured him away from Greenbriar Drive.
“Ultimately, I think this is the best school district in the state, so why leave,” Koopmann said. “In retrospect, I don’t regret not taking other job offers in the past. I love this school district and I believe in it.”
Koopmann followed Van Meter, Henry Winston and J.D. Burns to become only the fourth head football coach at Friendswood High School since 1958.
He was an offensive coordinator for the majority of his term on Van Meter’s staff when the Mustangs were perennial playoff qualifiers.
The Mustangs’ winning ways have continued under Koopmann’s leadership with no less than eight victories and a post-season appearance in all six seasons since his promotion. Koopmann is 51-22 as a head coach.
Consistency has been a hallmark of Friendswood under the Koopmann regime with eight wins in 2012, nine victories in 2013, along with eight in both 2014 and 2015.
A trip to the regional semifinals in 2015 ended with a loss to eventual state champion Katy.
Friendswood was 9-3 in 2016 and a three-round foray into the playoffs. The Mustangs finished 9-4 in 2017 while advancing to the Class 6A Region III Div. II semifinals.
In the past four seasons Friendswood has competed in the state’s large-school classification (Class 6A), but will drop down to Class 5A with the new UIL realignment for the next two years that will be announced in February.