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06/20/2023 08:07 AM

Beeman Retires After 39 Strong Years of Coaching

Westbrook Knights boys’ basketball Head Coach Jeff Beeman announced his retirement after the conclusion of the 2022-23 season on the court. Photo courtesy of Mary Beeman

As a coach, painting a legacy takes time and experience. Being around a sport you love to mentor others and help them grow their game often makes for success. All of this can be said for Westbrook boys’ basketball Head Coach Jeff Beeman, who hung up the clipboard after a strong tenure in the coaching world.

Jeff announced his retirement following the conclusion of the 2022-’23 winter basketball season after leading a group of Westbrook young men through a variety of learning curves and obstacles on the court.

Although the Knights finished the season with an overall record of 2-18 this campaign, Jeff leaves behind a successful career not only with Westbrook, but also with other programs.

Jeff started playing basketball at North Branford High School prior to attending Principia College in Elsah, IL. After graduation, he knew he still wanted to keep the game he loved a part of his life.

“I started coaching out there for an intramural team,” Jeff says. “I came back to Connecticut after I graduated and about two years into being home, Daniel Hand asked me to coach their summer league team. They then asked me to be the Junior Varsity coach after the summer and I accepted.”

Jeff notes that while coaching for the summer league, he was self-employed working with his dad at National Roofing.

He stayed on at Daniel Hand for seven years as an assistant coach under three different skippers. He was then given the opportunity to be the head coach for the North Branford boys’ team before moving around and making an impact on different programs.

“I was there for four years and then Madison needed a head coach. I went back to Madison and was the head coach there for 12 years,” says Jeff. “I then went to Westbrook after that, coaching for three years as the assistant coach under Bill Bernard who was my JV coach at Hand.”

Jeff adds that he had a great relationship with Bernard, who eventually took over to fill the head coaching position with the girls’ team. When that happened, Jeff was at the helm for the boys for 16 years.

Westbrook High School Athletic Director Caitlin Eichler commends Jeff for his ability to impact so many students during his tenure and change the basketball program for the better.

“Coach Beeman has positively touched the lives of over 150 athletes over the years,” says Eichler. “He has elevated athletes’ basketball skills and has helped the program achieve success. Coach Beeman has been a positive role model and mentor. It’s hard to imagine Westbrook High School boys’ basketball without Coach Beeman. He has been a colleague of mine since my arrival at Westbrook, and I have come to value our friendship. We ask our athletes to leave it all on the court and he has done that himself for the last 16 years. We will miss him and wish him nothing but the best.”

As a well-respected mentor in the community, Jeff made a name for himself across multiple towns as he coached for 39 years, however he does not look at his career from a record standpoint.

“I have had some really good teams record wise and some poor teams record wise,” says Jeff. “It is really about teaching the sport, helping as best you can to have kids mature with you.”

In addition to his 39 years coaching, Jeff was named New Haven Tap off Club Coach of the Year in 2004 with Daniel Hand, New Haven Register Coach of the Year in 2005 with Daniel Hand and in 2017 with the Knights, the Sportsmanship Award from the board of 10 officials in 2007 with Daniel Hand, Shoreline Conference Coach of the Year in 2013 with Westbrook, and Shoreline Conference champions in 2017 with the Knights.

Throughout his coaching career, Jeff also appreciates the little things, like the games he found to be the most memorable.

In 2017, the Knights were playing in the Class S State Championship game against the No. 6 seed, Trinity Catholic.

“We played Trinity Catholic, a team that recruits. We were 25-2 at that point and were playing with the kids from Westbrook,” Jeff says. “With a minute and a half to go we were down by a point, and we started committing fouls to stay in the game. They hit foul shots and we ended up losing by nine and that is probably my most memorable game, especially at Westbrook.”

Jeff adds that the 2017 team, who was the No. 1 seed going into the Class S State Tournament at the time, arguably could have been the best team that he’s coached.

Another notable team Jeff coached that competed in the semifinals was the Daniel Hand team in 2005, where they lost in overtime to the No. 1 seed New London.

“We went to the state semifinals with Joe Trapani who eventually played at Boston College and played in Europe professionally,” says Jeff. “Again a great team right there, I do remember this game with Hand. Trapani fouled out in regulation with four minutes to go. We were only playing six guys all year and my sixth guy came in who got it to overtime. We lost in overtime; those two games were probably the most memorable to me.”

As a coach and leader of a team, there are always challenges that can come with having a new roster makeup season to season and making adjustments as you go. Jeff found that having teams with different abilities over the years helped him learn how to adapt.

“As any coach will tell you a tough record season is tough from top to bottom. It is tough on your kids, your parents, your coaching staff because you are trying to find answers and come up with solutions,” says Jeff. “Other challenges, just normal coaching challenges, we were always adjusting offenses and defenses to the personnel. It is not like we are out recruiting to make players fit into our system.”

Jeff plans to look for the right opportunity in the future, whether that be as a head coach or an assistant coach. He notes that he still has a passion to teach kids how to play the game, play correctly, and behave correctly.