Beattie Lands In N.H. Coaches 'Hall of Fame'

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By Mike Zhe

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 21, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

"It means a lot when you look at the list of people that are (in the Hall of Fame). Twenty-five years -- in some ways it seems like (I started) yesterday and some times it seems like a long, long time ago."
[Ed Beattie, WHS girls basketball coach]

HAMPTON -- It starts with the voice. But it doesn't end there.

Whether teaching history, moderating auctions or coaching the girls basketball team at Winnacunnet High School, Ed Beattie is constantly barking, trying to bring out something extra in his audience.

"Auctions are a lot like coaching," he said. "You get to talk a lot. An auctioneer's rapport with the audience is a lot like a coach's rapport with the kids. There's a lot of coaxing."

He didn't have to make a case for anything on Sunday. It had already been made.

Beattie was one of 14 coaches inducted into the New Hampshire Coaches Association Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the MarriottGrappone Conference Center in Concord. It's an honor reserved for those who have put in at least 25 years of sideline service.

Also inducted was longtime area tennis coach Paul Whitmore. Whitmore, who enjoyed a stint coaching girls basketball at Portsmouth and before that was an assistant to Beattie, currently coaches girls basketball at Dover and boys tennis at Winnacunnet.

In an age of kinder, gentler coaches, the 50-year-old Beattie is a throwback Vocal and blunt, he has no qualms about taking a player to task within earshot of her parents. His practices are intense, high-energy affairs, and he stalks the sideline during games like a man with his hair on fire.

"I'm telling kids all the time it's a harsh world out there," he said. "You have to perform. You have to handle pressure. Athletics can be an avenue to handle those things."

It's his 25 years as Winnacunnet's girls varsity coach - highlighted by Class L championships in 1983-84 and 1997-98 -- that were celebrated Sunday, but his legacy when he finally hangs up his whistle will be his role in the local advancement of girls' sports.

Beattie started out coaching girls freshman basketball and girls varsity soccer at Winnacunnet in 1979. He guided the soccer team for 11 years -- winning a state title in 1983 - then picked it up again in the 1990s.

He, along with former Manchester Central coaches Ed Sides and Leo Cusson, was instrumental in the development of New Hampshire's first AAU girls basketball program in the early 1980s, one that enjoyed success beyond the borders and showcased dozens of future stars.

The record is tough to ignore. So's the voice.

"It's an abrasive personality if you don't know him," said Sides. "But once you know Ed, you see a lot of that's a smoke screen. He's a very loyal friend. Lord help the person that puts you down in front of him."

A good fit

Beattie says his coaching environment is one reason for his longevity. Since coming to Winnacunnet in 1979, he's worked for just three athletic directors -- Robert Dodge, Connie Manix and Carol Dozibrin.

"That gives you a good indication about the kids, the community, the school and the athletic administration," Beattie said.

For 24 years, he shared court time at cozy Dodge Gym with Jack Ford's boys basketball teams. The coaches' outspokenness - combined with the success of their programs - drew comparisons to the Jim Calhoun-Geno Auriemma cold war at the University of Connecticut, though in fact the two got along great, both favoring the same uptempo style of play.

"We played that up," Ford said. "People liked to think we were always at each other's throats. I don't think we raised our voices to each other once.

"It's been a great relationship of respect. People think because we had the crowded gym over there we'd have arguments over gym time. In reality, it took about 10 minutes to figure out."

He got to coach his three stepdaughters - Maura, Caitlin and Tara - at Winnacunnet, plus plenty of players who've gone onto college careers. Thrice he was named Class L coach of the year.

"He's very disciplined," said Cusson, who coached against Beattie at Central and with him in AAU. "He always knew what he wanted and he knew how he wanted it."

Beattie got to showcase his coaching nationally in '1986, when he guided New Hampshire's 14-yearold AAU team to the finals in Roanoke, Va. By his count, 11 of the 12 players on that team went on to captain their college teams.

That was before the state's best teenage talent was split up into multiple AAU teams. Beattie served as New Hampshire's AAU president for a year and its New England basketball director for two more before fading out of it in the early'90s.

Those who know him talk of his lighter side and his competitiveness. Over the years he's collected a river of free Diet Cokes from players naive enough to challenge him to an oncourt contest.

"On the court he's all business," Cusson said. "Off the court he's a fun individual. He's not the way people think of him, as this intense coach. He's got another side that most people don't see."

Following suit

Beattie's father, Bryce, was a wellknown coach in Maine and Massachusetts. By the time his son wrapped up at Nasson College in Springvale, Maine, he knew that was what he wanted to do.

"It's hard to be a fisherman's son and not like fishing," Beattie said. "I spent most of my time growing up on athletic fields and gyms."

If he began his coaching career today, he doesn't last 25 years anywhere. Not even close.

Even locally, it seems not a season goes by without parents complaining about a coach being too harsh, or administrators getting antsy when a coach raises his voice or criticizes a player.

"My deal is with the kids, not the parents," Beattie said. "Parents aren't at our practices. They don't see what's going on. For young coaches today, it's easy to be pushed into a corner, pushed somewhere you don't want to go. My thing is you've got to do what's best for the team."

His fit with female athletics has been a good one, and an appreciated one from his standpoint. He began coaching in the aftermath of Title IX, when opportunities for girls interested in competing were increasing.

"When I was in college I had a great appreciation for women's athletics," he said. "They struck me as hard workers. That was the great thing about being on the cutting edge of women's sports and where it's gone. They were thrilled to have those opportunities."

Before coming to Winnacunnet in 1974, Ford coached with Bryce Beattie at St, John's Prep in Danvers, Mass. He called Bryce's son an innovator when it came to zone pressing defense, and a natural leader.

"He could coach," Ford said, "anything he put his mind to."

Beattie says he'll feel honored when his name is called today.

"It means a lot when you look at the list of people that are on it," he said. "Twenty-five years - in some ways it seems like (I started) yesterday and some times it seems like a long, long time ago."

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