December 12, 2013

KENNEBEC JOURNAL BOYS SOCCER COACH OF THE YEAR: Don Beckwith

Hard work pays off for Maranacook coach

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

He sweats buckets, he yells at his players, often at officials, and he never slows down. Soccer games take much more out of Maranacook coach Don Beckwith than they do his players. He certainly puts a lot into them.

He’s not above humbling one of his players after a mistake, or worse yet, for not hustling and yanks them from games with the speed of a point-blank shot when they don’t perform to his expectations. And his players love him for it.

“He’s been like a father figure to all of us,” Maranacook senior Alex Tooth said. “He’s always there for people. Even though he’s scary, he’s just a big teddy bear.”

Tooth and his teammates rewarded Beckwith and the community with the school’s first state championship this year, one long overdue considering Maranacook’s sustained record of success.

For his efforts Beckwith has been named Kennebec Journal Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. Hall-Dale’s Andy Haskell and Richmond’s Joe Scribellito were also considered.

Just a few days after winning the Class C state championship, Beckwith was back on the field coaching one of his two premiere teams for youth players. He estimates he’s only missed five or six out of the last 200 games he’s coached at that level and that he puts about 30,000 miles a year on his car.

As far as his sideline style goes, Beckwith said he didn’t steal it from anyone.

“That’s just who I am,” he said. “I’ve toned it down some. I have to be there in it in order to get (the players) in it. At times I get carried away. This works for me.”

The Black Bears have long been one of the top teams in the Class B division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. They went 12-0-2 this fall and haven’t lost a regular-season game in three years.

In the past, they’ve always run into a southern Maine team like Falmouth or Yarmouth that impeded their run to a title. This year, they maintained their Class B schedule while dropping to Class C for the tournament.

Beckwith relished the underdog role and used it to motivate his players. This year, the Black Bears were favored to win the state title from Day 1.

“Frankly it’s been harder to do that than as underdogs,” Beckwith said. “You’re expected to win it.”

Given their success and preparation, Maranacook is positioned to contend for a state title for the next four years.

“We’ve done our work,” Beckwith said.

On the field, Beckwith has always preached defense first, something he said he learned from his father back when Beckwith was a key figure on four state championships teams at Richmond. The players celebrated their first state title at Maranacook for both themselves and their coach.

“It’s been a big deal, especially for Coach, because he’s been waiting for it for so long,” Maranacook senior Nick Lacasse said. “He was probably the best coach in the state not having won a state title.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638ghawkins@centralmaine.comTwitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ

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