“Over two decades ago, I toiled behind the scenes in the trenches, serving something greater than myself: a team and a university. If I did my job, very few people knew my name. However, if we fumbled on the goal line, well, that was front-page news.”
Charles “Chuck” Pope (Football 1992-93) jokes that his life today is almost exactly the way it was when he was Baylor’s center. “Just like at Baylor, if I do my job, then most people never hear of me. However, if I mess up, that can have major consequences for our country.” Today, he still toils behind the scenes serving something greater than himself: the United States and the American People.
Chuck Pope serves on the COVID-19 Task Force as Deputy Director for Acquisition and Assistance. He is a global leader of acquisitions and agreements, a commissioned Foreign Service Officer (US diplomat), a warranted senior Contracting/Agreement Officer, and a development professional. He has almost a quarter century of experience on four continents working for USAID, Peace Corps, and an implementing partner.
Pope credits his time as a Baylor athlete with giving him an edge in his career. While colleagues struggle with skills in the work place: teamwork, goal setting, commitment, grit, and many more, those skills come naturally to him as a former athlete. “Whenever I’m thinking I might be having a hard day at work, all I have to think about is two-a-days in the hot Texas sun with Coach Teaff frying an egg on the sidelines. Then, I conclude that my life isn’t so hard after all and bask in the air conditioning.”
After garnering JUCO All-America honors as a guard/tackle, Pope had a number of scholarship offers but chose Baylor for its great academics, athletics, and a degree program in Foreign Service. Due to some injuries, Coach F.A. Dry asked Pope to make a position change to center, although he had never played the position before, taking him outside of his comfort zone. The move paid dividends and Baylor would go on to have one of the best offensive lines in the country.
Baylor also offered an opportunity that other universities did not: service. Pope threw himself into the service of others, participating in mission trips and numerous volunteer activities. Pope recounts especially fond memories of his time with the Texas Special Olympics, “These folks were absolutely wild with delight to have a Baylor football player in their lives. They constantly wanted to talk about JJ Joe—was happy to chat about him—and how great Texas A&M football was—a topic I was less enthused about!”
Besides a short stint in college coaching, Pope has spent his career serving others as a public servant. His career has also been defined by constant moves out of his comfort zone to help the team. These two notions led him to his position on the Task Force and they started in earnest at Baylor.
Pope has an inside look into the state of the country in his position with the COVID-19 Task Force yet faces many of the same challenges we all face. “This past spring, our world was turned on its head, practically overnight. In these trying times, I have personally been sustained by family (most days—though I was never cut out to home school!), fellowship, and faith. I hope the Baylor family has found the same comforts.”
Chuck Pope currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC, with his son and two daughters. They enjoy all the area has to offer, including boating, the outdoors, visiting historical and cultural sites, and the quaint towns that dot the area. They also enjoy spending time at their ancestral home of Popes Creek, Virginia, also known as George Washington’s birthplace. He invites other Baylor Bears to connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/charles-chuck-pope-b6018595
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