Mike Chapman will forever be known as the man who built the University High School soccer program into 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 soccer community.
But now every athlete who walks on the Trojans’ soccer practice field will remember his legacy.
On Tuesday, the University dedicated the practice field to Chapman with an entrance bearing his name that stands above a photo of the 2013 Class 4A state championship boys team that he coached.
“We had to do something more to let his legacy endure forever,” said Dustin Sykora, WISD coordinator of middle school athletics. “This is one small thing we could do at this facility where the athletes come every single day. Getting this up and having it for the Chapman family was something personally that I looked forward to it.”
It was only fitting that the dedication was held after an early morning youth soccer camp. Chapman was heavily involved in the development of young soccer players through his camps.
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Kyle Chapman took over head coaching duties for the Trojans following his brother’s death, and is glad that University is still providing a place where young players can learn the game.
“I 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 field. He just wanted to make sure those three areas were accomplished.”
A 1979 Midway High School graduate, Chapman earned a degree in radio and TV from Baylor in 1983, then went back to earn a teaching degree in 1985. He coached at the middle school level at Midway in the late 1980s, then spent a couple of years in Granbury before landing at University as the Trojans’ soccer coach at the start of the 1993-94 school year.
Chapman stayed at University for the rest of his life, at times directing both the boys and girls soccer programs.
“The South Waco community and soccer were his big deal,” said longtime University head trainer Jerry Williams. “He was a father figure to so many thousands of children. He was on the phone all day because people were calling him. Any time someone needed something he would go. The list goes on with tragedies that happened, and he was right there helping them. It was all kind of behind the scenes, which is the way he wanted it.”
The Tribune-Herald named Chapman as its Super Centex Soccer Coach of the Decade in 2020. He was named Super Centex Coach of the Year six times as he won more than 500 games, reached the playoffs 21 times, and amassed 12 district championships.
In January, he was posthumously inducted into the WISD Hall of Fame.
“To think of where he started when he didn’t even know if he could put 11 people on the field, and to build them to where they could get 200 kids is just amazing,” Kyle Chapman said. “This just culminates another thing to keep his legacy going.”
Sykora witnessed the numerous hours Chapman worked with young soccer players, and what it meant to him to develop their life skills as well as soccer abilities.
“Whenever someone 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 ever give to himself. What he was training kids to do off the field was the most important thing. The wins took care of themselves once they did all those things off the field.”
Chapman had the picture of the state championship team constructed soon after the Trojans won the title in 2013. Williams believes Chapman would be humbled by seeing his name on University’s practice field since he never liked to draw attention to himself.
“He had the sign built for the championship team and was immensely proud of that, never knowing the new banner is going to be over it with the field named after him,” Williams said. “He never wanted any light on him. It’s all about his kids from him. But he would have been really beaming today.”