High profile teams practicing in Coppell facility brings fame to school, field house


The Dallas Cowboys have a special teams practice in the Coppell turf room this October. Photo by Mallorie Munoz.

Joseph Krum, Managing Editor

This past football season, the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Alabama football teams practiced in the Coppell turf room. Rolling up in their charter busses and nice cars, it was the talk of the campus.


Everyone, even the principal, got a little excited.


“One time the Cowboys came this past season, I happened to be on campus and I went back there and saw them,” CHS Principal Mike Jasso said. “I am a huge Cowboys fan and a sports nut so I had to watch a little.  I won’t lie though, it was nice to be on the sideline right next to [Cowboys head coach] Jason Garrett.”


But when both of the teams came to Coppell’s brand new full length indoor turf room, they did not just drive over in their charter buses and ask if they could practice here; the process of getting the teams to Coppell’s facilities took a little more planning.


“The teams had guys that represent them in a football operations capacity,” Coppell Athletic Director Joe McBride said. “Those football operations people contacted me. For the Cowboys, their facility had blown over a few years ago, so they contacted us on a game week when the weather was horrific. The Cotton Bowl and Alabama also contacted us and asked to practice here.”


The former Cowboys’ practice facility, which McBride mentioned had been destroyed, was blown over in high winds in 2009. Although the team needed a short-term backup facility in case they needed to practice when the weather got bad, they probably will not need to come back to Coppell very soon. Coming later this year, the Cowboys are planning to use a $350 million, 90-acre practice facility that includes a 12,000 seat indoor stadium right down the road in Frisco.


Yet since the accident in 2009, the Cowboys have had to use their outdoor practice fields, hence the reason why they needed to use an indoor field for protection from Mother Nature. The week that the team came and practiced, McBride said they had planned ahead.


“The Cowboys just look at the weather radar beforehand and see if bad weather is coming,” McBride said. “They gave us a heads up of a possibility of them needing to use our facility and they asked us if there was a time that wouldn’t disrupt our schedule. So they work it out just in case they do need to use it, so if they do it’s just smooth sailing.”


The logistics of Alabama and the Cowboys practicing at Coppell worked out well because of Coppell’s vicinity to both the current practice facility (in Valley Ranch) and AT&T Stadium for Alabama and the Cotton Bowl. Since Coppell is located close to these venues, Jasso thinks teams in the future could try and schedule a few practices in Coppell’s facilities.


“I do think that teams in the future, especially for the Cotton Bowl, could practice here since we are really close to the airport and metroplex,” Jasso said. “These teams practicing here also could help with recruiting in a sense that if [Alabama head coach] Nick Saban and Alabama was looking at a kid from Coppell, it could be easier to get in contact with him.”


Although Saban did not talk to any players from Coppell, he did talk to Coppell football coach Mike DeWitt.


“I got to shake Nick Saban’s hand,” DeWitt said. “He came up to me after the practice and thanked me for using the facility and he told me that this was the only way that they could practice and not have the team come in on Christmas Day. So he was thankful that we let him practice so that they could spend time with their families on Christmas.”


Alabama, who won the 2016 College Football Playoff, and the Dallas Cowboys are both some of the biggest names of professional and collegiate sports. With big name teams like the two so far coming to practice in Coppell, McBride thinks the prominence of Coppell’s facilities could lead to other well-known teams looking to schedule future practices.

“The Cotton Bowl, which is part of the college football playoffs, will most likely reach out to us a lot since we have the nicest indoor facility in the nation,” McBride said. “Also, in the future, AT&T stadium will most likely hold a Super Bowl. I haven’t been contacted yet but I’m sure there’s a possibility that we could get contacted.”

Dallas Cowboys receiver Rodney Smith looks on the team practice in October in the Coppell turf room. Photo by Mallory Munoz.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Rodney Smith looks on the team practice in October in the Coppell turf room. Photo by Mallorie Munoz.