By Dave Mast
Ellie Beam has gotten an opportunity to witness the struggles of a program trying to find its way.
Now, she hopes that she has what it takes to bring the Hiland girls softball program out of the dark and into the light.
As Hiland’s new head softball coach, Beam will try to turn the program around after several years of struggles have culminated in some none-too-sparkling records.
Beam served as the Hiland assistant coach the past several seasons, and in that time, she got to know the current group of talent fairly well. So when the job of head coach became available, she figured why not throw her name into the ring for the position?
Youthful and exuberant, Beam brings a fresh attitude and plenty of zeal for the game to the table, and it didn’t take long for the school board to offer her the position.
That suited the current crop of players fine, and now she has already proven that belief and winning can be contagious, and the Lady Hawks are enjoying early success.
“I just want to make the game fun for the girls and help them to better understand the game itself,” Beam said. ‘We will work hard, and we all want to win, because that is really what makes this game fun, but there is more to it than that. I want these girls to be able to improve in doing the little things that help us win as a team, and to gain a better understanding of all of the little nuances of the game. Where they need to be on any given play, what should happen in whatever situation might arise and what they need to accomplish to make themselves better as individuals and as a team.”
Beam starred at Waynedale High School in her heyday, and although she chose to focus on academics rather than a playing career in college, the softball bug never left her. She quickly got involved with the Hiland program, and now her time is spent doing all of the coaching, teaching and encouraging, the latter being something she talks a lot about with her players.
“I want our girls to understand the value in picking each other up and playing as one,” Beam said. “That is something we can all do.”
Beam also said that she isn’t panning on being a one-year wonder, and is in the process of developing a youth program that will serve as a feeder system for years to come.
She knows that building a struggling program takes time, but she also is wise enough to realize that if she wants to develop the program, it has to begin with youngsters who can develop their game at an early age.
“I want to be involved with our younger kids,” Beam said. “We’ve got to have a program that shows young girls how much fun this game is and that we can be competitive. We have a good core of players at the varsity level this year, and we have a ways to go, but we have some nice goals this year, and winning double figures is one of them.”
Having gotten off to a 2-3 start to the campaign, a start that included an incredible comeback win over East Canton in their home opener, Beam has instilled joy and zest in the game for the Lady Hawks.
She is even having fun with it, stating that, much like Willie Mays Hayes did in the movie Major Leagues, where he tacked up a batting glove for every stolen base, they will do the same with a big “W.”
Beam and her team hope that by the end of the season, there will be plenty of W’s to go around.