Bill Beaney, five-time NESCAC Coach of the Year, reflects on 35 years of coaching

By Charles Crounse

Courtesy: Middlebury Athletics
Bill Beaney (left) poses with Hogan Beazley (right) after Middlebury’s home golf meet on Saturday, May 8.

Bill Beaney has coached at Middlebury since the fall of 1986, overseeing four different programs and winning numerous accolades. Beginning as the men’s hockey and women’s soccer coach, Beaney maintained these roles for nearly a decade. In 1994, he stepped down as the women’s soccer coach and began coaching the men’s golf program, which he still coaches today. 

Dissatisfied with the gender inequity in golf, Beaney set out to create a women’s program in 1999, coaching the team for several years before finding a more permanent coach. He continued to work with the men’s golf and hockey programs until 2015, when he stepped down from his hockey post to focus solely on the golf team.

Coaching vastly different sports may appear difficult to some, Beaney doesn’t see it that way. 

“You have the skill piece obviously — you do have to be comfortable teaching certain skills for each sport,” Beaney acknowledged. “But other than that, it’s really about figuring out how to get to know the players you’re dealing with, how to get the best out of them, and how to help them reach their full potential.”

Beaney has done just that with his teams, securing nine NESCAC championships as head coach of the men’s golf program. When he was first appointed, the Panthers had yet to win a title since the creation of the men’s golf division in 1984. Since then, Middlebury men’s golf has gone on to become the winningest team of the 21st century in the NESCAC. Beaney has also produced a number of star players, including five NESCAC players of the year.

“Each [player] is different,” Beaney said. “You have to learn to ask the right kinds of questions, and then it’s important to listen to be able to take them to the next step in their game.”  

Despite his overwhelming success in the competitive aspect of golf, Beaney doesn’t believe that this is his greatest achievement. 

“The goal in all these sports is to help these young people be their best and be their best teacher, and thus we want to act as guides so they learn to be self-sufficient.”

Now in his 35th year of coaching, Beaney says that the quality of the student-athletes drives him to return to coaching each season. While his love for competition and his love of sports is a contributing factor, his ultimate joy is interacting with students on a daily basis. 

Despite facing many obstacles this past year amidst the global pandemic, Beaney says he’s become even more grateful to lead his team and to get to see them so often, even when not competing for championships.

Earlier this month, Beaney was named NESCAC Coach of the Year as he led the men’s golf team to a NESCAC Championship on Sunday, May 2. When asked about his award — an accolade Beaney has now earned five times — he credited the excellent work his team put in this year. He also attributed much of the team’s success to this year’s captains, John Mikus ’21 and Jordan Bessalel ’21. 

“They guided this team in a way that highlighted their excellent work ethic and consistently demonstrated a respect for their opportunity to play,” Beaney said. “They did a fabulous job.”

Beaney believes the team can push to retain their NESCAC title next season, with a number of players set to return after taking remote or gap semesters and a fresh crew of recruits set to join the team in the fall. 

Despite all the glory and achievements that Beaney has helped his team earn, he says there is no one moment he considers to be his career highlight. 

“I really can’t pick just one moment; I’d probably go on for several paragraphs,” Beaney said. “Every season is different, and each has its own special moments.”

Bill Beaney has coached at Middlebury since the fall of 1986, overseeing four different programs and winning numerous accolades.