NEW WESTMINSTER — Steve Beauchamp has been coaching basketball for so long now and made it such an ingrained part of his life that sooner or later, he was going to run into a season like this one.
With the symbolism as rife as the crackling pages a family scrapbook, Beauchamp has not only returned to a familiar stomping ground, he’s now there with his daughter and one of his former players.
When Beauchamp left his head coach posting at the helm of New Westminster’s Douglas College Royals men’s team in the spring of 1993 he had just led the team to a silver medal at the CCAA national tournament.
Twenty-four years later, in his first season back at the collegiate level, he had guided the Douglas College women’s team to the CCAA nationals which open Thursday (12 noon) at Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where the Royals (14-4) take on the undefeated Alberta champion Lethbridge College Kodiaks (21-0). (Watch the livestream here)
And about that basketball scrapbook?
Oh yeah. Well how about not only coaching your own daughter, whom you coached through her entire high school career, but having a former player from your first go-round at Douglas join you as an assistant because he too, has a daughter on the current team?
Beauchamp coached daughter Rachel right through her senior year at Surrey’s Holy Cross Regional Secondary and was content to continue to coach the Crusaders senior varsity while watching Rachel’s university games with the rest of the players’ parents.
“When (former head coach) Courtney (Gerwing) decided to go back to school, the (head coach) position became available,” begins Beauchamp, “and Rachel told me that I should apply. I told her I was OK just being a dad watching from the stands. But kids know which buttons to push and when your 20-year-old daughter asks, it’s hard to say ‘No’.”
And thus Beauchamp returned to the same campus he had coached at for 10 years, from the early 1980s through 1993, which coincidentally is also the last time the Douglas women’s program won the league championship.
Assisting Beauchamp is Sean Beasley, who formerly played under him at Douglas, later served as his assistant coach, and upon Beauchamp’s departure in 1993, became the head coach.
Beasley’s daughter Amber, a fourth-year guard out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary, is a member of the Royals.
“I think all of this means a lot of different things,” Beauchamp says of the myriad connections. “It talks about family. It speaks to all of the relationships you create over time. And for me, really, just shows how important basketball has been in my life.”
Gerwing had done a tremendous job at Douglas and she left a veteran group for Beauchamp to work with.
“Most of them had played under Courtney the last couple of years and so they had to get to know us,” said Beauchamp. “I am sure some of their roles and their responsibilities changed from last season.”
Now, after wins over Vancouver Island and then Capilano en route to capturing the league title, the scrappy, sixth-seeded Royals draw the No. 2 nationally ranked and third-seeded Kodiaks.
“We’re a blue-collar team, we’re going to grind it out and play hard-nosed defence,” Beauchamp says. “We may not be blessed the way some teams are in terms of offensive scoring power. Our identity comes on the defensive end.”
Rachel Beauchamp led the PacWest during the regular season at 10.75 rebounds per game, while teammate Ellen Fallis was eighth in scoring at 11.67 ppg. Point guard Adelia Paul was third in the league in assists at 3.25 apg.
“I think the biggest factor has been the desire and the committment level is so high,” added the coach. “They want to learn and get better, they are all ultra-competitive and they are all here for the right reasons.”
Yet the best part of this story is still the homecoming.
A quarter-century of life had gone by, and now the old coach is back, so much more smarter and wiser.
And that scrapbook? It just keep getting fatter.
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