After 34 seasons, coach Bud Beech is stepping off the court. According to him, however, his coaching days are far from over.
In January of 2017, Beech hit his 500th winning game, one he said, “is a milestone in coaching,” but was quick to add that that number probably came with about “350 to 400 losses, too.”
When a coach has spent 24 years up and down the side lines, they tend to have many highs and lows. His coaching style has evolved over time as well, spending more focused attention at practice and less “intensity” during the heat of the game.
“Over the years, it's been more doing what I need to do in practice versus being upset at games,” Beech said.
His advice? Sometimes you’re just not going to win. In those cases, face the game head on and work on improving at what you do best.
“You got to take what you got and continue to build what you do have,” Beech said.
While Beech has made peace with loss, he is no stranger to the thrill of the win. He remembers 1992 clearly, when the Nease Panthers went to State and then again, in 2002, when they brought home the title. Time flies on the court, however, and coach Beech is even impressed with how long he’s been at it.
“I've had the opportunity to coach a lot of great kids and know wonderful people,” Beech said. “It’s been a fun career. I never would have thought it would end up being that long, but you just do it each year.”
Much like his players, basketball started for him in high school as well. He eventually went on to play for Flagler College, leading the Saints in assists and eventually being inducted into the Flagler College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. After graduating, he went to work in the financial department for American Express. The job was short lived, however. He soon started a position part-time as a coach’s assistant for the St. Johns County’s new high school, Allen D. Nease, which opened in 1981. The rest is history — well, 24 years of history at Nease and then another 10 at the new Ponte Vedra High School.
He is currently Dean at Ponte Vedra High and has no plans to change that.
“A certain aspect is mentoring,” Beech said “You do reflect a lot of things (between coaching and being a dean). Here, I might give out some discipline but at the same time I find out about their background and the things going on in their life. I try to keep in touch like I do in coaching.”
While you might be able to take the dean out of the coach, there is no taking the coach out of dean Beech. Students fortunate to end up in his office get more encouragement than lectures.
“In coaching I teach players how to react and respond to things in the game,” Beech said. “With adversity and losing, it's about how you accept it. There are parallels to (how I talk to students).”
Beech said he will miss coaching but looks forward to having more free time, particularly for his wife and four children. His son, Beau, was a former standout guard at Ponte Vedra and is now playing in Germany with the Hamburg Towers. The team has been promoted to the Basketball Bundesliga, the highest professional league in Germany for the season starting later this month.
Being available for a few weeks at a time to see his son play overseas is an opportunity he doesn’t plan to miss out on.
Additionally, Beech fully intends to keep up with Bud Beech Summer Camp, an affordable all-sports camp he maintains with his wife.