FEATURE: Kelly Beckham, GHS Boys Basketball Coach

December 5, 2017. Gainesville, FL. Kelly Beckham and the players on the Bench watch the Hurricanes in the first quarter against Columbia High School. Gainesville won 67-55.

Gainesville High School Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Kelly Beckham started his well-respected career 35 years ago as an assistant basketball coach at his own high school. In 2008, Beckham came to GHS and brought with him an impressive resume and high hopes for the Hurricanes.

Kelly Beckham’s achievements at GHS

In his first season with GHS, he exceeded expectations, earning his title as Florida’s 2009 Coach of the Year. Since then, Beckham’s career continues to capture the attention of organizations and individuals. Among those is the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches, which inducted Beckham into their Court of Legends in 2015.

Even from the outside, it is easy to see Beckham worked hard to deserve these recognitions. At GHS alone, Beckham has a record of 205 wins with just 64 losses according to MaxPreps. In 2009, he led the team to a 5A State Championship Title, which was one of four of Beckham’s Final Four appearances with the Hurricanes. An inside look at Beckham’s coaching philosophy and his relationship with the team shows how he does it.

December 5, 2017. Kelly Beckham coaches the Gainesville High School players during a timeout of a game against Columbia High School. The Hurricanes won 67-55.

Beckham’s coaching style developed through his 35-year career

Beckham has developed as a coach since his career first started. He notes that players today aren’t the same as they were thirty years ago and they don’t have the same expectations. Today’s players, Beckham says, want to know the reasons they are asked to do certain things, and seek trust and relationships with their coaches more than players did in the past.

December 5, 2017. Gainesville, FL. Senior Dallas Tealer (3) makes a free throw in a game against Columbia High School.
Coaching for success on the court

In terms of gameplay, Beckham emphasizes strong defense, playing hard, and being a good teammate. Senior Dallas Tealer, who has been on Beckham’s team since his freshman year, testifies that Beckham knows what each player needs in order to learn. Tealer says, “he’ll be really hard on us if he knows that’s what’ll get us motivated, but if he just needs to talk to someone and that’s what helps them, that’s what he does.”

Junior Desmond Ridgeway reinforced Tealer’s comments, emphasizing Beckham’s ability to teach the game and show how to handle different situations. “The way he teaches shooting and ball handling has helped me in the game,” Ridgeway mentioned. In particular, Ridgeway pointed out that Beckham teaches his players to stay calm and respectful, saying,

“It’s affected me a lot, the way he teaches the game… he can get mad sometimes but that doesn’t mean not to be calm or not to listen.”

December 5, 2017. Gainesville, FL. Kelly Beckham (left) advises Senior Diamond Smith (right) before sending him onto the court for substitution in a game against Columbia High School.
Coaching for success in life

While Beckham acknowledges that teaching performance is essential, he points out,

“You just have to have high expectations… make sure that [the coaches] have good relationships with [the players] so they understand that we have their best interest at heart.”

With this relational coaching style, Beckham leads the team to victory on the court, but his players say he has a deeper impact than that. Hurricanes Senior Diamond Smith has been on the Hurricanes varsity team for a year. He says that Beckham’s coaching helps to motivate the direction of his life.


Each season impacts Beckham, as well

December 5, 2017. Gainesville, FL. Kelly Beckham looks on in the fourth quarter as GHS takes on Columbia High School. The Hurricanes won 67-55.

Beckham says that his investment in the players each season and the team’s improvement is fulfilling. He comments, “seeing [the players] grow from the very beginning to the end and being able to have success is quite gratifying.” Beckham continued to express the satisfaction of starting with a team that isn’t at the championship level and taking them deep into the playoffs.

Beckham and the Hurricanes looking forward

This year, Beckham anticipates growth and hopes for success for the GHS Hurricanes; and, this season, as he always does, Beckham will continue to impact GHS as a whole and his players as individuals.

About Kelsey Godman

I grew up in the Washington, DC area and now I'm a Gator. I'll always be learning more about myself, others and the world around me. And I'll always be talking about sports.

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