Don Beebe didn’t need a lot of motivation launching his NFL career. He was an unheralded product out of tiny Chadron State, as tiny in stature as his college when he reported to the 1989 pre-draft NFL Combine.
The Maple Park Kaneland High School graduate wowed the NFL scouts with his off-the-charts speed and agility. He seemingly came of nowhere to become a third round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. From there, he went to play in four Super Bowls with the Bills, and two more with the Green Bay Packers, wearing a NFL champion ring with the Pack from Super Bowl XXXI.
Retired from the game after nine successful seasons in the NFL, Beebe runs the House of Speed Training School in Aurora, which now has branches in 11 states. He also moonlights as the head football coach for Aurora Christian School, where he led the Eagles to their first IHSA state finals championship last fall in Class 3A. They also finished second in 2008 in Class 4A.
Beebe, 47, also works the circuit as a motivational speaker. If there’s one thing Don Beebe can do, it is motivate. Last week, he came to Manlius to motivate the Bureau Valley High School student body, staff and administration, brought in by BVHS booster Don King, who had Beebe speak to his employees at Michlig Ag four years ago.
“I thought it was important to give the message of discipline, hard work, the will to never give up and the importance of leadership to our school. I was lucky to get Don, as his message hit home with our school,” King said.
BV principal/athletic director Eric Lawson said Beebe touched upon everything the school tries to impress on their students.
“The message that we wanted him to talk to kids about was just about dealing with characters and discipline and about making good decisions, and hard work. All the things we try to preach to our kids here on a daily basis,” he said.
Lawson said Beebe’s rise to fame is a source of motivation in itself.
“When you think of a professional athlete, you think they’ve had all the glory and an easy road to be success. Mr. Beebe’s story was far from having success growing up,” Lawson said. “He went through a lot of trials and tribulations. Kind of showed the kids you got to finish strong and got to find things that motivate you and set goals for yourself.”
Bureau Valley senior football/track standout Adam Weidner called it an awesome experience having a professional athlete of Beebe’s caliber come to speak.
“He’ just a normal kid from Illinois, who worked hard and didn’t let anything get in his way and what he wanted to do, and that was to be a professional athlete,” Weidner said.
Beebe can simply wind up a YouTube clip of himself from Super Bowl XXXII to preach his never-give-up attitude in life. In that clip, which led to his claim to fame,” the diminutive Beebe is shown racing downfield to strip the Cowboys’ unsuspecting Leon Lett just as he was holding the ball out to celebrate a defensive touchdown at the goal line. It didn’t matter the Bills were down 52-17. As always Beebe busted his butt to the end.
Good things in sports: Belvidere High School cheerleaders who came in to take over for rival school Belvidere North three days after the tragic deaths of two North cheerleaders in an auto accident. The Belvidere girls sported black shirts reading, “Two teams, one Town.” About a hundred additional BHS students came to cheer for North as well. Those young kids get it.
Bad things in sports: Larry Brennan of our sister paper in Sterling recently wrote about the cavalier attitude displayed from the LaSalle-Peru student body section, which broke out the famed “Ole, Ole” chant whenever Sterling’s Jose Knox touched the ball in a recent meeting of the two basketball teams. Brennan called the cheers racially insensitive, a column that has sparked much conversation on area online sports forums.
I remember in 1995 and 1996 when the L-P students chanted “USA, USA” when Princeton played them with Bosnian refugees Mirza Salkic and Riki Isabegovic. I felt at the time that was rather unhospitable to a pair of teens who escaped their war-torn country to seek a better life.
The Cavalier kids are hardly the only area student body section who have spoken out of turn. I’ve heard some raucous comments this season in ear shot of a school administrators who didn’t bat an eye.
Good things in sports: I read the highly inspiring Sports Illustrated story of Oak Park River Forest High School coach Mike Powell, who continues to coach despite a debilitating bout of Polymyositis, a rare disorder that make the body’s immune system attack the body instead of protect. The disease has completely sapped all the strength from the former strapping collegiate All-American. Powell is a coach who gets it, knowing his role as father-figure/role model first, then coach. He is idolized by his athletes, now more than ever. They started a Facebook page called WWMPD for “What Would Michael Powell Do.”
Here’s a link to the SI piece, one I would encourage everyone to read (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1194725/index.htm). Mike Powell stands for everything a high school coach should be.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com