Head Coach, E.O. Smith High School, 1971-73
Graduate Assistant, Connecticut, 1971-73
Head Coach, New Hampshire, 1973-82
Head Coach, Rhode Island, 1982-present
Coach of the Year Awards:
A-10 Indoor: 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015
A-10 Outdoor: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017
New England Indoor: 1989
New England Outdoor: 1992, 2004
USTFCCCA Northeast Indoor: 1989, 1997, 2001, 2015
USTFCCCA Northeast Outdoor: 2004, 2007
NCAA District I: 1992, 2005
John Copeland has been the head coach for men's cross country and track & field at Rhode Island since 1982.
During his stint as cross country coach, he has trained the school's only three NCAA Division I qualifiers since 1949: Greg Hale (1983, 1985), Roger Bragg (1987) and Nick Jackson (1991). His harriers have racked up seven top 10 New England finishes including runner-ups Hale (1985) and Jackson (1991) and third-place finisher Hale (1983). He coached Hale to second place at the ICAAAA (1985) and Tim Dunn to the ICAAAA College Division Championship title (1989). At the Atlantic 10 Championships, the team has posted its best finishes in the history of the conference with three top four finishes (1991, 1997, 1998).
His indoor track teams have earned numerous accolades. The Rams won the New England Indoor Championships in 1989 and placed second at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships in 1997 and 1999. Copeland has trained 14 NCAA qualifiers, three of whom became All-Americans: Butch Brown (1983), Patrick Egan (1985),and Bob Allen (1991). He has coached 16 All-ICAAAA athletes as well. Thirty-four Rhode Island athletes have been New England Indoor Champions while 29 have placed second. Copeland was named the 1989 New England Indoor Coach-of-the-Year and the 1996 Atlantic 10 Indoor Coach-of-the-Year.
The outdoor team has enjoyed similar success. In 1992 the team won the New England Championship. In 1999 the outdoor squad earned third place honors at the Atlantic 10 Championship. Copeland has trained 12 NCAA qualifiers and three All-Americans: Egan (1985), John Walker (1989), and Jeffery Walker (1991). The Rams have had 25 All-ICAAAA athletes including Jeff Woods, the ICAAAA 400-meter intermediate hurdle champion in 1991 and runner-up in 1992. In 1992, Copeland was named the New England and the NCAA District I Outdoor Coach-of-the-Year.
Copeland began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Connecticut. He was also head coach at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, Conn., before going on to serve as head coach at New Hampshire. During his nine seasons at New Hampshire, he was named the 1979 NCAA District I Cross Country Coach-of-the-Year and six cross country runners qualified for the NCAA Championship with one runner earning NCAA Division I All-America honors. He was also named New England Indoor Coach-of-the-Year while at New Hampshire.
Since arriving at Rhode Island in 1982, Copeland's athletes have set 135 school records and 13 have earned the Albert LeBeouf Award presented to Rhode Island's outstanding senior athlete. He has served as secretary of the United States Cross Country Coaches Association, a representative for the United States Track Coaches Association, past president of the New England Track Coaches Association. He is a USA Track & Field certified Level I and II coach.
Copeland had an outstanding career as a student-athlete at Connecticut. He captained the track team in 1967-68 and was twice named Connecticut's Outstanding Trackman (1965, 1967). A hurdler, he was a three-time qualifier for the New England Championship and was also a NCAA qualifier. He was a six-time Yankee Conference hurdle champion, two-time New England runner-up, an ICAAAA runner-up and twice named the MVP of the Connecticut track team.
After Copeland earned a bachelor's degree in bacteriology, he served in the Army for three years where he was awarded the Bronze Star while on tour in Vietnam. He later returned to Connecticut where he completed graduate work towards his teaching certificate in secondary biology, chemistry and earth sciences.
Copeland and his wife Jane live in West Kingston, R.I.