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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

New coach, new era?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Everyone knows the Nevada High School football team got a significant boost when head coach Wes Beachler took over. The stats and record from last season speak for themselves on that. But when I came back to the Daily Mail last week, I saw something from him at practice that I think speaks volumes about not only his character, but just how good he is as a coach.

When I went to practice, there was a little bit of the usual fidgeting among the ranks as the players were listening to Beachler talk about the offensive scheme he wanted to use for the Willard game, but that's to be expected from high school boys. The surprising thing to me was that he didn't just bark out orders and expect everybody to know exactly what he was talking about, but he actually made an effort to put in genuine work and make sure what he wanted out of his team was what he got.

And even more striking than that to me was the fact that when he was introducing a new play, he told the players he was sure they wouldn't get it right the first time, but didn't do it in a way that sounded untrusting or condescending in any way. He said it in a way that said, "Hey, this is tough. It might take some time and a few reps to get it right, but that's OK."

Some might say that sort of thing is what a coach should do and they all work that way. Well, that should be correct, but the fact is, a coach who doesn't just bark out orders and run his practices more like a sweat shop than the learning experience and preparatory session they should be is exceedingly rare, in my experience.

And what most coaches I've seen don't seem to understand about that is the simple fact that, especially at that age, when a person comes at them in an aggressive way or in any manner they don't like, guys just don't listen. Well, it was pretty obvious to me based on how many of the players were asking questions about everything they didn't happen to be clear on, but were also putting very obvious effort into doing exactly what they were shown and told, exactly the right way that it works.

And not only that, but the stats and overall performances speak for themselves. Yes, some things this year haven't gone quite the way Beachler or the Tigers might have liked, but Willard is not only in a larger class than Nevada, but they're a member of the Central Ozarks Conference Large Division.

Beating a COC large school -- even one that has such a long history of struggle as Willard -- is no easy task. I think it ought to be a well-known fact by now that to even compete -- let alone win -- against schools like Branson, Carthage, Neosho, Ozark and Webb City takes a pretty talented football team. And Willard has been competitive in the majority of the conference games it has lost in recent years.

But honestly, even more than the way he dealt with his players in practice and talked about them after last week's win, it really struck me how much confidence Beachler seems to have in his staff. Even though it should be, it's not every day a football coach can hand the practice over to another member of his staff and just let that staff member do his job, but Beachler did exactly that.

When he turned the team over to one of his assistance, Beachler was obviously still making sure his presence was known as any good leader will and watching what was going on like a hawk, but when he happened to catch sight of me standing there watching, he walked off the practice field just to introduce himself to me and talk about why I was there.

When I introduced myself, he welcomed me with open arms and invited me to stick around as long as I wanted to and even stuck around to talk for a few minutes while practice was still going on. If you ask me, that's just as much a sign of a good coach as the way he worked with his players directly.

Based on what I've seen thus far, it looks to me like the Nevada High School football team's years of woe and bottom feeding very well could be over. Yes, being without a conference still hurts, but Nevada High School has certainly found itself the biggest piece of the puzzle that has been missing for so many years.

Keep it up, coach.

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Eric Wade
Beyond the Bench