With tryouts held across the county, Thursday marked the official start of the 2019-20 high school sports season, but new North Lincoln High School Athletic Director Jesse Beane has already been hard at work since assuming the position July 1.
“My main priorities have been learning, listening and becoming a familiar face for the coaches, especially the coaches of our fall sports, considering not only the changes in our athletic department, but also the changes in the school’s administration,” Beane said. “Right now I just want to be a helping hand, so it’s been ‘What do you need?’ instead of coming in and saying ‘This is how I’m gonna do it.’ We’ll have our first sit-down together Monday, but I’ve met individually with a lot of the coaches already.”
Beane, a Caldwell County native, was a three-sport athlete at West Caldwell High School prior to suffering an injury that caused him to narrow his focus to basketball and baseball. His exploits on the diamond led to a full-ride to Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he earned his degree in mathematics before embarking on a career in banking.
“Banking just wasn’t for me, but I was fortunate enough to get a lateral entry job back on Lenoir-Rhyne’s campus at University Christian High School,” he said. “I started as the athletic director there, and it was a brand new school at the time, so they didn’t have any athletics when I took the job. I started boys basketball, golf and co-ed tennis, and then in year two we were inducted into the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association.”
Beane faced the monumental task of building an athletic department from scratch in his first stint as an athletic director, but with University Christian operating on a college campus, he was able to watch and learn from the late Neill McGeachy, who served as Lenoir-Rhyne’s athletic director from 2002-2016.
“I was able to build a relationship with Neill McGeachy while he was still the athletic director at Lenoir-Rhyne, so it was obviously huge for me to be able to watch him and see how things are supposed to operate,” Beane said. “Brent Heaberlin, who I think just stepped down this past year as assistant athletic director at Lenoir-Rhyne, I was able to work a lot of one-on-one with him, which helped me understand that every day there’s some kind of to-do list, so it’s all about prioritizing what’s most important first.”
While most athletic directors start out in coaching, Beane took the opposite route, helping build the athletic department at University Christian before leaving to get into coaching at West Caldwell, where he initially served as an assistant for basketball and baseball before being promoted to head coach in both sports.
Beane spent six years at West Caldwell before landing an administrative role with Lincoln County Schools in 2018, serving as an instructional facilitator at West Lincoln Middle School. Then, when Mark Lackey stepped down as North Lincoln’s athletic director in June, Beane jumped at the opportunity.
“North Lincoln is 16 years old, so it hasn’t had that rollover in alumni yet,” he said. “In my opinion, North Lincoln is still kind of in that honeymoon stage as far as we’re still trying to create our culture. While that may be the case, the foundation has already been laid with multiple state titles in various sports, as well as a great coaching staff with plenty of experience.”
While Beane hasn’t come in with a “my way or the highway” philosophy, he does have a vision for how he wants the department to operate, starting now and progressing into the future.
“I really want to push for unity right off the bat because we’re gonna have to help each other to be the best we can be,” Beane said. “Moving forward, the decisions I make today are going to affect tomorrow, whether that’s in hiring a new coach or buying a new piece of equipment. Those are things that will make an immediate impact, but it’s also important to consider how those decisions will affect us 5-10 years down the road. I want us to have a three-year plan, a five-year plan and a 10-year plan, and some of that is already in place, but I’ll use my experience to clean those plans up a little bit.”
Despite coming from a coaching background, Beane has no plans to coach at North Lincoln.
“Will I miss coaching? Absolutely,” he said. “As athletic director, I won’t get a lot of that one-on-one with an athlete where you meet them as a freshman playing (junior varsity) and watch them grow into young men and women as seniors. That’s something that’s pretty special, and it’s what I’ll miss most about coaching.”
As athletic director, Beane’s responsibilities are vast, ranging from maintaining North Lincoln’s on-campus facilities to getting out in the community to garner support for its programs, and everything in-between.
“I really want my coaches to focus on coaching, and that means I have to be here to handle all the logistics,” he said. “My role is to take a step back and take care of all the different aspects required to make an athletic department run efficiently, which is something I enjoy.”