AMES – “Cobes needs Cobes.”
Mark Coberley remembers it well. So does his son Beau. And Matt Campbell?
“It’s one of those moments that I won’t forget,” said the head coach.
Beau had just broken the Iowa State football depth chart in his sophomore year prior to the 2019 Northern Iowa game. A walk-on, whose father happened to be the team’s longtime athletic coach at the time (he’s now the assistant athletic director for sports medicine), was preparing to play a major role.
Then disaster. Beau tore an ACL during a non-contact exercise. Surgery. Six months on the sidelines. Agonizing rehab.
“I was out there in the field when he tore it up,” Mark told me. “You have to quickly switch from dad mode to trainer mode.”
Iowa State Senior Day marks the near end of the father-son football duo
That one-of-a-kind father-son soccer relationship is almost over. The Cyclones’ annual Senior Day ceremony takes place ahead of Saturday’s 6:00 p.m. game against Texas Tech at Jack Trice Stadium. After that it’s at TCU. Play beyond that is not guaranteed.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to be, to be honest,” Mark told me of Saturday’s ceremony. “It’s going to be a good day for Beau. It’s been a long, long journey, being a little kid sitting on the grassy hill at games and hanging out in the training room since he was a little guy. He can perform a litany of who’s who on the Iowa state football program.
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“He always wanted to compete with players at that level. He did it.”
Beau is still a walk-on despite having an academic scholarship. He completed his bachelor’s degree in three years. He’s in grad school, teaching assistant in the university’s journalism department, attending classes and doing the day-to-day stuff that all soccer players do, by the way.
Talk about a commitment.
“It’s going to be bittersweet,” Beau said of Saturday. “I know I’m dating the best group of guys I could ever ask for. I was lucky. Blessed.”
He will date stars such as Xavier Hutchinson, Trevor Downing, O’Rien Vance and Anthony Johnson Jr., among others. They all have stories. So does Beau.
“I’m happy for him,” said Mark. “He had chances in the Ivy League and FCS, but he has Cyclone blood in him. He’s a competitive kid. Coming from a smaller school (West Marshall) he always wanted a chance to see if he could compete with our boys.”
Beau has been friends with stars like Leonard Johnson (his favorite), Todd Blythe, Allen Lazard, David Montgomery and of course stars of recent years. His freshman roommate at the Fredericksen Court Apartments on campus was none other than Brock Purdy.
“You’re not even thinking about how blessed I am right now,” Beau said. “Some of the guys hit you up, and Brock — I was at breakfast with Sean Shaw, then suddenly the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback came up from behind and started hugging me.
“When I was a little kid, I used to sit on the mound and play two-man touch. I was allowed to go onto the field with my father before the games. I saw him in the dressing room after games.
“To be out there with him once again… I’m incredibly grateful to be given this opportunity. He taught me soccer in the state of Iowa. It’s all part of this incredible journey that I will always remember.
A cruciate ligament tear has made the Iowa State football duo closer than ever
Note this: It was cool for dad, too.
“My wife (Denise) used to take Beau and his sister (MacKenzie) to the gym to hang out,” Mark said. “In this business, you’re in the establishment a lot. You are away from your children. I was fortunate to have been in a situation where they could come and hang out with some of the best athletes this school has seen.”
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Yes, that’s neat, and even the cruciate ligament tear had a heartwarming outcome.
“Cobes needs Cobes”, someone yelled loudly as Beau lay on the floor.
“I felt terrible for him but at the same time what we were going to do for him and what he was going to go through would be an experience he will never forget. At the end of the day, every kid who has been through this has come out for the better.”
Certainly a unique experience, the agonizing hours of rehab with your father. You love him despite the pain he causes you.
“I went to the workout room myself after it happened,” Beau said, recalling the incident. “My father took the test. It didn’t look good. It wasn’t great, but you know what? Throughout this journey, I’ve spent more time with him than ever before. Every morning at 6 a.m. he kicks my butt.”
And now it’s almost over.
“Last week Beau was named our scout team player of the week,” Campbell said. “He started out in Texas on special teams. Beau has been through a lot. For Beau and Mark to walk this journey together – I don’t think it’s easy when you’re the son of someone who has a leadership role.
“I’ve seen Beau grow in rehab. Man, as a parent, you say how grateful and what an experience it was for these two boys. I always found their relationship incredible, but throughout ACL’s recovery to this day, they have been inseparable.
“It’s definitely a great story for her family.”
Cobes needs Cobes.
Saturday, it will be Cobes hugs Cobes emotionally.
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Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson began his 50th year as a sportswriter for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. You can reach him at [email protected], 515-284-8132 and on Twitter @RandyPete.