AP names Beckham coach of the year

File photo
Butch Beckham, seen here wiping confetti off of himself after Arenac Eastern won a district championship in 2014, was named the Class D girls basketball coach of the year by the AP.
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TWINING — Arenac Eastern girls basketball coach Butch Beckham has been named coach of the year by The Associated Press for Class D.

It is the second time in five years Beckham has won the award.

“I couldn’t believe it, to be honest,” he said. “I was flabbergasted. To win it once is something. To win it twice is just unbelievable.”

Beckham said he was first named coach of the year in 2010, but with a completely different group of players.

“It’s a whole new team, and it just shows the amount of dedication and commitment these kids have to playing and trying to be successful with a small team,” he said.

The AP does not always specify why they select a coach for the award, but Beckham said he thinks it is because the team had a small roster, but still excelled in 2014.

“I think it probably had to do with having so few kids, having two eighth-graders, a foreign exchange student and still winning 21 games,” he said. “I would think that would probably be it. They didn’t give me any reason, they just told me I was selected.”

AE’s 21 wins this year matched the school record set in 2010, Beckham said. AE also won the North Star League girls title and a district championship.

Beckham said he is not sure if there is a certain coaching style or philosophy that has led to his success, but it is more about knowing the players on his team.

“It depends on your kids, really, what kind of style you can play,” he said. “With this bunch here, we played all man-to-man for the last three or four years, and before that we played all zone because I had bigger kids and we could jam up the middle and make them shoot from outside. It all really depends on what kids you have.”

“But I’m a pretty demanding coach,” Beckham added. “I want things done a certain way, and we’re going to work until we get there. I don’t believe in taking any shortcuts.”

Getting the players to buy into his techniques does not begin the first day of practice, but before the school year even starts, Beckham said.

“You don’t have any success if you don’t play summer basketball,” he said.

“We try to get in 20 games in the summertime,” Beckham added. “It really helps, too. Those 20 games are like another season that you’re playing in the summer.”

While Beckham had adjusted to new players and done well with small rosters, he said his success is ultimately dependent on the girls on the team.

“They’re the ones that do all the work,” he said. “They put all the time in. I just coach them and work with them. They do the hard part, for sure. I don’t have to do it. They do it. They enjoy doing it. They want to be successful and they work hard to get there.”

The accolades received by Beckham will likely be the last he receives as AE’s coach. Although he has not formally resigned, Beckham said he does not plan to return to Eastern next year, because he does not believe there will be enough players. However, he does not plan to step away from coaching altogether.

“I plan on coaching somewhere, but I don’t have a clue right now,” he said.

Beckham said in 2010 he received a certificate from the AP after being named coach of the year, but has not received one yet this year.

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