By Ted Waddell
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA July 22, 2003 While coaching the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) mens basketball team, Chad Beeten always told his players to put their families first.
Beeten recently decided to follow that advice himself. As a result, he said farewell to the local community college and hello to a career in real estate in sunny Las Vegas.
When he called his returning players to break the news that he was putting his own family first and returning to his old stomping grounds out west, Beeten said it came as a shock to them.
But they understood his difficult call.
For most of his life, basketball has ruled Beeten: the practicing and games as a player and then the practicing and teaching as a coach.
After his graduation from Glouchester College in Baltimore, Beeten landed his first coaching job at Marymount University in Virginia. Then it was on to Aruba in the Caribbean Islands as a player/coach for a club team.
When he decided to return to the states, Beeten got a job coaching AAU hoops in Oakland, Ca.
In mid-November, 2001 he took over the reins at SCCC in the wake of Will Browns leaving the program to coach at SUNY-Albany, an NCAA Division I school.
Beeten started coaching during the fourth game of the 2001-2002 season. Over the course of the year, he meshed his own style of basketball with that of his boss, SCCC Athletic Director Chris DePew, who also served as the assistant mens basketball coach.
We kept some things and made a few changes, he recalled of the transition year that saw the Generals rack up a 27-4 record before losing in the NJCAA Division III Championship Game at SUNY Delhi.
A lot of people thought wed be lucky to go .500 that year, he said.
Beeten said that in his second year at the helm, he had a chance to put my little stamp on things, as he focused on molding a team of nine freshmen and three sophomores into a contender for a national title.
I felt it was my program and my team, he said in a recent telephone interview.
The 2002-2003 team didnt fare too badly during what some viewed as a rebuilding year. The Generals were ranked first or second in the NJCAA Division III poll throughout much of the season. In what Beeten noted was an extremely tough [and self-imposed] schedule, the Generals went 25-4 before getting upset in the Region XV tournament.
Beeten was tabbed Coach of the Year by his peers in Region XV.
We built this team for this year, he said, referring to the 2003-2004 season.
Asked how his players reacted to the news that he wasnt coming back and was in fact benching his career as a college-level coach in favor of starting up a real estate investment enterprise with his father in the Las Vegas, Beeten said they were shocked and very disappointed . . . but understood my decision to put my family first.
I always preached to all the kids put your family first, then your education and then basketball, he said. I preached that every day.
They are an extremely good group of kids. I was extremely close to most of the team . . . it was more than a coach/player relationship, in a lot of cases I was almost like a father to some of the kids who didnt have a father in their lives.
Beeten said he thought about sticking it out for for the 2003-2004 season in order to watch his sophomores try for a shot at the national title, but in the end figured it was time to move on to greener pastures.
I thought about coaching for another year, but decided to go back to the West Coast, he said. Its about lifestyle changes. All my life, I moved from place to place, and I got tired of moving around. I didnt want to settle in New York, and I really like the West Coast weather.
Betten said he never sought the spotlight in basketball, but rather enjoyed coaching for coaching.
His immediate plans dont include basketball, but after getting the real estate investment business up and running, Beeten said he hopes his NJCAA record will help him land a job coaching high school hoops.
The hardest thing was to leave the kids, Beeten said of his decision to leave SCCC.
After Beeten pulled up stakes on June 16, DePew said that he and the members of the college administration decided to keep a lid on the news so they could strategize.
Chad did a tremendous job for us here at Sullivan, said DePew, who will be the Generals head coach for the 2003-2004 season.