New soccer coach changing mindset

Published 9:38 am Thursday, February 23, 2017

Davie girls soccer is a historically downtrodden program, so an upbeat, cheerful coach like Jim Beck is probably the perfect man to take the reigns and attempt to turn things around.

“Every practice I try to start off with something positive,” said Beck, who became the third coach in Davie’s 26-year history. “A good friend of mine who was a very successful high-school coach taught me this: He said, “We’ve taught them all the soccer we can. We’re not going to teach them anything new about soccer. But here’s what we can teach them. Once we put them on the field, our influence is pretty much over because we can’t call timeout. They have to make quick decisions, right or wrong. My role is to lead them and help them to understand that once you make that decision, you’ve made it. Now you’ve got to move on. If it’s the wrong decision, you’ve got to move on.’ I tell the girls: ‘If you dwell on wrong decisions, then we end up a player down.’ I don’t yell at them. We’re not the most talented group out there, but they will be prepared for whoever we play. I really like their attitude.”

The War Eagles enter the 2017 season starving for success. They have suffered seven straight losing seasons. They have endured 13 straight losing records in the Central Piedmont Conference. Their last winning season in the CPC was 1996. They’ve been constantly ripped apart by Mt. Tabor (2-38-2 all-time record in the series), Reynolds (3-44-3) and West Forsyth (1-49-2). Third place is the highest Davie has ever finished in the CPC. It is 0-8 in state-playoff games.

Pete Gustafson coached Davie for the first 21 years (1991-2011), and Kerstin Steinour was at the helm for five years. Davie’s all-time overall record is 219-222-25, including an 84-169-11 mark in the CPC.

Beck, 59, has 11 years of coaching experience, all with club and post-grad teams. In August, he was hired at Cooleemee Elementary school, but he was recently moved to Davie.

“We had good interest in the position,” Davie athletic director Mike Absher said. “We interviewed him and loved his passion and his knowledge of the game. He really truly wants to be at a place where he can build something and try to sustain it over a long period of time. He’s got a great feel for wanting to develop these athletes both on and off the playing field, which obviously meant a lot to us. He’s a good person. He came highly recommended. He’s a good person to have in charge of our women’s soccer program.”

Beck grew up in High Point. He moved from Kernersville to Mocksville last November. Over the past six years, he coached post-grad teams at Forest Trail Academy in Kernersville and at Thomasville Prep.

“I coached mostly international kids that finished their senior year of high school but were in the transition of going to college,” he said. “Maybe they don’t have a scholarship yet. That’s been the bulk of my coaching.

“This is my first opportunity with girls. I really like coaching girls because I get a better connect with them. I really like to engage with my players.”

First, Beck is aiming for respectability. Reaching the .500 level in the CPC in year one might be too much to ask, but he would love to be a pain in the rear for the rest of the league.

“We’re trying to change the mindset,” he said. “We’re not just a team that everybody wants to play to get a victory. I tell them: Belief starts in their mind. They have to believe that we can go out night after night and win. People in the stands may not believe it, and the other team may not believe we can beat them, because a lot of these schools will go ahead and put down a W. But if we believe, then we can do it. So I’ve got to teach them to believe. I want to win at least three games that on paper we’re not supposed to win.”

Beck was delighted by turnouts at voluntary workouts in December and January.

“I had really good participation, 20 girls coming out,” he said. “That was a good average. I’m really pleased with what I see. I’m excited about this season.”

Madison Riddle, Jaci Grachen and Jessica Navarro – to name a few – are legitimate reasons for optimism. Riddle is a senior goalie who recently signed with Division-II Pfeiffer.

“I nominated her for the East-West All-Star Game,” he said. “Our program needs that. We need coaches to realize we’ve got girls who can play in that. She is very confident and she’s really quick to react. We played in an indoor tournament (in late January) and we finished in the top four (out of 20 teams). To get into the top four, we had to have a shutout against Southwest Guilford – and (Riddle) shut them out 1-0.”

Grachen, a sophomore center attacking midfielder, and Navarro, a junior forward, are among crucial pieces to the puzzle.

“I’ve got two sophomores who will play,” he said. “One of them (Grachen) will probably not come off the field. She is an unbelievable player.

“I really like (Navarro). She’s got a good future, too. She is really quick. I look for her to score a lot of goals.”

March 4’s home nonconference game against High Point Christian Academy will be an intriguing matchup, pitting father against son. Beck’s oldest son, Austin Beck, coaches HPC.

“He and I talked about making this a regular match,” he said. “High Point Christian is going to be really good, and they will be a test for my girls. But it will be good for them. My son is telling me how bad they’re going to be. I said: ‘I’m your dad. I know you better than that.’ I love watching him coach. He’s such a great role model for these kids.”

Martin Gant and Andrew Davis are Beck’s assistant coaches. Davis is the JV coach.