HIGH POINT — Sam Beasley wasn’t expecting to become High Point Christian’s head football coach. But over his career, he’s learned that plans sometimes change.
When Scott Bell stepped down last month, Beasley wasn’t initially looking to make the jump from assistant to head coach. But, after careful consideration, he decided to accept the position leading the Cougars.
“I’ll be 61 in September, so a lot of people are screaming, ‘No, you need to retire,’ ” Beasley said with a smile. “But I just felt like logically it was the thing for me to do for the kids. I don’t feel like I really have anything to prove in coaching. I’ve done it at all levels and had success. But, to me, I look at it as a ministry.
“Because of our unique situation, we can even take football and use it to point these kids toward Christ. So, really that’s the driving factor for me. And success that comes with it, that just gives you a voice. Let’s face it — if you don’t win the games, nobody cares what you have to say anyway,” he said with a laugh.
Beasley is a familiar face within the school community, having taught PE, science and Bible classes during his seven years at the school, plus he has coached the girls basketball team and the past two years was on staff with the football team.
So, particularly with the timing of the change, he thought he could fill the role quickly and seamlessly.
Beasley has plenty of experience in coaching — including stops at Northwest Guilford, Southeast Guilford (his alma mater), Western Alamance and Parkwood, where he also was the athletic director until retiring in 2012. He’s held a variety of roles in coaching a number of sports in 30-plus years.
In addition to working alongside notable coaches such as Charlie Groves at Northwest Guilford and Hal Capps at Western Alamance, he followed in the footsteps of his dad, Bill Beasley, a longtime teacher, coach and administrator with Guilford County Schools.
“I learned how to coach basketball watching him (at Southeast Guilford Junior High),” he said. “I probably learned more watching him in games, just hearing his discussions and what he was doing, what he was thinking.
“It was like I had a front-row seat because he was a great basketball coach. He’s my hero. He’s a great man. I talk about these other coaches, but really early in my life he was formative. I remember years when he’d coach football, basketball and baseball and he’d go undefeated the whole year. He did that often.”
When he retired in 2012, Beasley believed that he was done with coaching and that he’d while away the time fishing and spending time with his family. But that didn’t pan out.
“I moved back, really, to the community I grew up in,” he said. “I brought my wife back and I thought, ‘This is it.’ But grandkids are busy — they’ve got activities. It’s fun to watch them in a game or play.
“But I just thought, ‘This is not enough.’ I felt like God was saying, ‘This is not what I want you to do.’ Because I’ve had so many ministry opportunities since jumping back in.”
He recalled setting the goal of catching a 10-pound bass, which he’d have mounted. But when he did it, there was something lacking in that moment. So, he and his wife talked and he decided to get back into teaching and coaching.
“I remember catching it and sliding it back in the water,” he said. “Ever since we moved back, I’d been trying to do this and it’s like, ‘So what?’ Just this empty feeling.
“We talked that night and she said, ‘I used to see that fire in your eyes coaching. Why don’t you go back to one of these programs and see if you can do some coaching?’
“I looked online and saw High Point Christian needed a girls basketball coach, and I’d had that great experience with Parkwood when we went to the final four. I thought, ‘That’d be cool to do that here.’ ”
Beasley helped guide a growing Cougars girls basketball team for five seasons and eventually shifted focus to football. As head coach, he plans to keep many things the same, at least initially.
But he does want to bring a little more running into the offense, control the clock and limit big plays on defense. The goal is to keep the team, which usually features a number of two-way players, fresher.
“Just management things,” he said.
The aim is for the Cougars — perennial contenders who won back-to-back NCISAA state titles in 2015 and 2016 — to be ready to go again in the fall.
“I think I can take the best parts of those programs (he’s previously coached) and make something that’ll take hold here,” Beasley said. “This year we’ve got a lot of talent. We’re still looking for some linemen. But this may be one of the most talented skill groups we’ve ever had.”