Beakler takes over Dallastown boys' volleyball program
- Tom Beakler won two state boys' volleyball titles while coaching Northeastern in the early 1990s.
- Beakler will return to high school coaching in the spring when he takes over at Dallastown.
- Dallastown is coming off consecutive 7-4 York-Adams League seasons.
Sometimes you just can’t put out the fire inside a highly successful coach.
Even after a hiatus of about 15 years from the sport, the coaching flame still burns inside Tom Beakler.
Beakler was at the helm of the Northeastern boys’ volleyball program when it won its first two PIAA state championships in 1992 and 1993. That number has since swelled to seven overall state crowns for the Bobcats, who have won five more Class AA state titles under current head coach Matt Wilson, including the last four straight.
So, it's no stretch to call Northeastern the premier high school boys' volleyball program in the state, and it all started under Beakler's leadership.
After stepping down as the Northeastern boys' volleyball coach in 1995, Beakler coached the Northeastern girls’ volleyball side for a couple of years before “retiring.”
That “retirement” ended recently when Beakler, 71, was named the new head coach of the Dallastown boys’ volleyball program. He replaces Lance Ranck, who resigned in late June.
“Typically when you get older you lose your edge,” Beakler said. “And the longer you’re away from the game, I think the less you think about it. But with me, I’ve been fortunate to stay involved and it kind of went the other way with me. The last couple of years I’ve been at most of the (Northeastern) matches and the edge kind of came back.”
After recently retiring from his employment, Beakler found that he had some time to put that edge back into use. Coincidentally or not, it just happened that the Dallastown program had an opening. While Beakler has been away from the coaching part of the game for a decade and a half, he doesn’t fear that all that much has changed fundamentally since he was leading the Bobcats to back-to-back state titles.
“The game has changed from all of the differences back in the 1990s,” he said. “Rally point being the biggest difference. But positioning, passing, defense, setting skills, attacking skills … they’re all the same. It’s just a matter of getting your kids to believe in you and respect you and returning that respect back to them.”
Before the Wildcat players can respect Beakler, they'll first need to meet their new coach. While that hasn’t happened yet, Beakler anticipates that to occur in the not-too-distant future.
“I don’t know the players as of yet,” he said. “But I’ve watched them and I’ll be meeting with them in the very near future, along with their parents. And I’m sure it won’t take long to get to know them.”
When they do get to know their coach, they will soon come to realize that Beakler is a true competitor. He certainly wants to win every time his team takes the court. But there’s more to it than just that. He also wants to see his team play the game the right way.
“There’s the right way and the wrong way in doing things in volleyball,” he said. “Most of the skills are the same as they were when I coached at Northeastern. And I’ve watched many of the top programs in the county and it seems like the skills aren’t quite as important now as they once were. And I really want to emphasize basic skills and dedication to those skills with extremely hard work.”
Beakler is taking over a Dallastown program that has enjoyed consistent success recently. The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back 7-4 York-Adams League seasons and have enjoyed winning league seasons in the seven of the last nine campaigns. Dallastown's last championship season was 2007, when the Wildcats shared the regular-season league title with Spring Grove.
Beakler won’t have to wait long after the season begins to get a feel for the nature of the competition around the York-Adams League. Dallastown will play host to Northeastern and his former standout Wilson to open the regular season.
Will taking on Wilson, who will be entering his 22nd season as coach at Northeastern, feel a little weird for Beakler?
“Matt and I talk quite frequently,” Beakler said. “As a matter of fact Matt, and I just got off the phone about five minutes ago. So we remain in constant contact.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.