Mike Chapman will forever be remembered as the man who made the college high school football program a state power.
When he died suddenly of a heart attack at age 58 in January 2020, it left a deep hole in the Central Texas football community.
But now, every athlete who steps onto the Trojans football training ground will remember his legacy.
On Tuesday, the University dedicated the practice ground to Chapman with an entrance bearing his name that looms above a photo of the 2013 Class 4A men’s state championship team he coached.
“We had to do something more to ensure his legacy lives on forever,” said Dustin Sykora, WISD coordinator of college athletics. “It’s a small thing we could do at this facility where the athletes come every day. Putting that in place and having it for the Chapman family was something I personally looked forward to.
It was fitting that the inauguration took place after an early morning youth soccer camp. Chapman has been heavily involved in the development of young football players through his camps.
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Kyle Chapman took over as head coach of the Trojans after his brother’s death and is glad the University still provides a place for young players to learn the game.
“He loved winning, but his big things were Soccer Buddies, this camp and the Make a Wish program,” Kyle Chapman said. “He always said they were going to be successful in the classroom, in the community and on the pitch. He just wanted to make sure those three areas were accomplished.
A graduate of Midway High School in 1979, Chapman received a radio and television diploma from Baylor in 1983, then returned to earn a teaching diploma in 1985. He coached at the intermediate level at Midway in the late 1980s, then spent a few years in Granbury before landing at university as the soccer coach of the Trojans at the start of the 1993-1994 school year.
Chapman remained in college for the rest of his life, occasionally leading the boys’ and girls’ football programs.
“The South Waco community and football was his big deal,” said longtime college head coach Jerry Williams. “He was a father figure to thousands of children. He was on the phone all day because people called him. Whenever someone needed something, he went there. The list goes on with the tragedies that happened, and he was there to help them. Everything was happening behind the scenes, just as he wanted it to be.
The Tribune-Herald named Chapman its 2020 Super Centex Football Coach of the Decade. He was named Super Centex Coach of the Year six times as he won over 500 games, reached the playoffs 21 times and amassed 12 district championships.
In January, he was posthumously inducted into the WISD Hall of Fame.
“Think about where he started when he didn’t even know if he could put 11 people in the field, and building them up to where they could have 200 kids is just amazing,” Kyle Chapman said. “It just culminates another thing to maintain his legacy.”
Sykora witnessed the many hours Chapman worked with young football players and what it meant to him to develop their life skills as well as their football abilities.
“Whenever anyone asks me about Mike, I always say two words: selfless servant,” Sykora said. “Very few people can be like that. He gave to others before he could give to himself. What he trained the kids to do off the pitch was the most important thing. The wins took care of themselves once they’ve done all those things off the field.
Chapman had the state championship team photo constructed shortly after the Trojans won the title in 2013. Williams believes Chapman would be humiliated seeing his name on the college practice field because he never liked drawing attention to himself.
“He had the sign built for the Championship team and was immensely proud of it, never knowing the new banner was going to be on it with the pitch that bears his name,” Williams said. “He never wanted any light on him. It’s all about his kids. But he would have been really beaming today.