As a basketball player, Don Beall knows what a blind-side pick is. As a coach, now he also knows how it feels.
Beall recently lost his varsity girls basketball coaching position at Glenelg.
"I never saw it coming, not even a little bit," he said.
Beall said he was called into an April 25 meeting with school administrators to talk about basketball.
"They told me they wanted to go in a different direction and that (JV coach Chris Beil) was in the building and he had paid his dues" and should be varsity coach.
Beall thought he could have pushed to keep his job, but he didn't want to stay where he wasn't wanted.
"I told them, I'd make it easy on them," he said.
He resigned rather than being fired.
"I'm very appreciative of what Don has done for Glenelg High School all these years. …He had a great run," said John Davis, the school's Athletics and Activities Manager. "I'm going to miss him; I think Don is a great guy."
With the exception of four years spent at Good Counsel, Beall has been coaching at Glenelg since 1988 and he has coached volleyball (JV and varsity), boys soccer (JV), softball (JV) and girls basketball (JV and varsity).
He is not a teacher or in the school system, so he was classified as an emergency coach. Until recently that meant his coaching position was in jeopardy if any teacher in the school wanted it.
The county changed its policy a few years ago, allowing emergency coaches to take a series of classes to become certified. Completing the course work placed the emergency coach on the same level as a teacher.
Ultimately, however, all coaching positions are one-year appointments.
Beall believes he has the right to fight to keep coaching, but he has decided against it.
"It would be so uncomfortable," he said. "I've tried to be classy in representing myself and the school and trying to get my kids to do the same."
Although many of the teams he coached were at the junior varsity level, Beall has had success with his varsity teams.
He had no knowledge of volleyball when he began coaching the JV team. In 2004, he took over the varsity and in 2005 won the Class 2A state championship. He won Howard County and Metro Coach of the Year honors that year.
His 2007 team reached the state semifinals and the 2008 squad was a state finalist.
Beall's first basketball victory came on Dec. 6, 2006 and he has a signed basketball to prove it. In his seven years as head coach, his teams posted a 109-60 overall record and won two county and two District V titles.
The county coaches twice selected Beall as their Coach of the Year.
"He played a pivotal role in my development as a player," said Glenelg senior Emily Russo.
She first met Beall at the Glenelg Booster Camps. "I remember always looking up to him as a coach and I can remember that I just couldn't wait to play for him."
Circumstances prevented this year's varsity basketball team from reaching its full potential. Sam Heisig, an all-county first-team performer, tore her ACL during the AAU season and did not return to the team until January. Russo, the county Player of the Year as a junior, tore her ACL in early December and was out for the remainder of the season.
Still, Glenelg went 10-13.
"Even with a losing record, I thought (assistant coach) Dave Ebbe and I did a phenomenal job with the kids that we had. I thought they worked harder as a whole group than last year's team, which was phenomenal."
Ebbe is also resigning.
Beall is uncertain about his status as volleyball coach.
"I have really mixed emotions about volleyball," he said. "This is their senior year and they were a special group of freshmen."
Coaching takes a depth of commitment that few people realize. Successful teams need to do something year round, including summer leagues and fall ball, and that organization generally falls on the coach.
"People don't have a clue what I have had to sacrifice (to coach). How much I was committed to making this work because of working six days a week (at Giant Foods in Montgomery County)."
Beall was up at 4 a.m. to be at work by 5. The early shift allowed him to be at Glenelg in time for practices and games.
There were times, though, when in order to meet his team's playing schedule, he had to take vacation or sick days.
He even missed a surprise 30th anniversary party because he was coaching a JV team in a holiday tournament.
But Beall has no regrets.
"I feel good about all of the good I have done for the school and the community and, above all the kids I coached." Beall said. "I'm really proud to have had the opportunity to coach at Glenelg, It is a highlight of my life."
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