Five-years old, thatâ€™s the first time Matt Beam roamed the sidelines. Now 22 years later, he has the opportunity to be a head coach.
Wednesday night, Beam was approved by Lincoln Countyâ€™s School Board to become the North Lincoln Knights new football coach, replacing Lonnie Custer.
For the 27-year old, mature beyond his years, the opportunity to return to the Lincoln Co. was too much to pass up.
â€œItâ€™s a good opportunity for me to go back. Iâ€™ve been in Charlotte for five years. I enjoy Charlotte and being around the people Iâ€™m around, but Iâ€™m kind of getting to go back to where Iâ€™m from and where I grew up,â€ Beam, a 1995 East Lincoln graduate said.
â€œThat was one of the reasons, I applied for the job. I thought if the opportunity came up that I could go back, I would think about going back. It worked out that way and thatâ€™s kind of where we stand right now,â€ Beam said.
Currently living in Charlotte, Beam is a physical education teacher at Quail Middle School. Heâ€™s also coached football at the middle school, guiding them to two conference championships. During the fall, he was on South Meckâ€™s coaching staff serving on Greg Ganfieldâ€™s staff.
Beam believes the tutelage heâ€™s received under Ganfield has been immeasurable.
â€œHeâ€™s one of the most knowledgeable football coaches Iâ€™ve ever been around. He and my dad (Wes). He taught me everything and helped me understand you have to get them to understand how to play football, then everything will fall into place,â€ he said of Ganfield.
Being around his dad Wes Beam, whoâ€™s regarded as a legend in Lincoln Co., Beam couldnâ€™t help but to pick up valuable football knowledge. That coupled with his youthful enthusiasm is what won over North Lincolnâ€™s administration.
â€œWhile he may not have the experience level of some of the other candidates, Matt has been around football and coaching all of his life and he really impressed us with his passion and energy. We feel Coach Beam will be someone who will build upon the good things we already have with our football program and continue to make improvements for years to come,â€ Principal Rick Freeman said.
The Knights are not only receiving a coach with unlimited potential, in Matt, theyâ€™re also receiving years of defensive knowledge from Wes, who will join Mattâ€™s staff as defensive coordinator.
â€œGetting the opportunity to come back and work with him was very important. Heâ€™s very knowledgeable. When he stops doing football, I want to be able to carry on that knowledge and give it back to the kids. We kind of go back and forth. Iâ€™m an offensive guy and heâ€™s a defensive guy and we sometimes argue, but itâ€™s good to bounce things off each other. That was a big ordeal, that was very important to me,â€ Matt said.
The opportunity to work with his son was one Wes, who left the West Lincoln Rebels, where he served as an assistant, couldnâ€™t pass up.
â€œMatt helped me some when I was over at East Lincoln, then he went to Charlotte. I really enjoyed coaching with him then. Itâ€™s going to be exciting for me,â€ he said.
The Rebels have no hard feelings with his departure.
â€œWeâ€™re losing, not only a good coach, but heâ€™s also a good friend of mine. But the opportunity Matt had, any father would do the same. I wish both of them the best,â€ Rebels Athletic Director Wayne Navey said.
While football is important to Matt, who is currently working on getting Nationally Board Certified, he wants to make it clear, heâ€™s an educator first.
â€œIâ€™m going to teach first. I love football and Iâ€™ll spend as much time with that as teaching, but educating kids is my first responsibility.â€
Wes believes his son will fare well as a head coach.
â€œHeâ€™s been around it, since he was five-years old when he was carrying water out on the field. I feel heâ€™ll do fine. He likes to throw it and run it, likes to mix it up,â€ he said.
Despite their difference in age and experience, Wes says there will be no power struggle with the newly-named head coach.
â€œI really have no problem with being an assistant under him. I donâ€™t get much on these ego trips, I just like to coach.â€
by John Mark Brooks