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Beesley makes it halfway to dad’s mark

With cupcakes on hand to celebrate the occasion, Cathedral High School head baseball coach Craig Beesley made it to the midway point in his chase to catch his dad in total wins.

Beesley, who took over the Cathedral baseball team in 2003, took just nine years to get to the halfway point of his father, Ken Beesley, who finished with 401 wins in his tenure. Win No. 200 came Wednesday against Natchez High School, and the team celebrated afterward by drenching Craig with an ice-water shower and eating commemorative cupcakes. Win No. 201 came the following night against Franklin County High School.

The elder Beesley coached the baseball team for three decades before handing the reigns over to his son. With the younger Beelsey getting to 200 wins in just nine seasons, Craig is well on his way to passing his father in the wins column.

But Craig said a lot of credit goes to his father, who built the Green Wave baseball program from the ground up after starting it back up in 1972. Craig said he learned from his father the value of being patient with the players and not trying to rush things. Craig is always quick to point to his father — and the players — for any success he’s had coaching baseball.

Still, 200 wins in just nine seasons at the helm is most impressive, and Craig has certainly done a good job with the players he’s had over the years. When a team is a perennial postseason contender, it’s a sign of a well-run program. As head coach, Craig deserves a lot of credit for maintaining the success his father started.

The Beesleys have become synonymous with Cathedral athletics over the years, and Craig said his father’s dedication to the school and its children is something he admired while watching his dad coach and teach.

“He’s dependable,” Craig said. “If you ever need him to do something, he’s always going to be there for the kids or other coaches, and kids have come to understand that.”

They’ve also come to take him for granted, Craig said. With Ken planning on retiring at the end of the semester, Craig said not having his dad at the school every day will be an adjustment — though Craig also said he’s trying to convince him to come back and teach a class or two next fall.

“They expect to see him in the hallway every day, and it’s going to be different next year when he’s not there every day,” Craig said. “It was good for me to be able to win 200 with him still teaching here.”

It’s difficult to put into words what the Beesley family has meant to Cathedral. In addition to coaching baseball, the elder Beesley also coached the football team from 1976 to 2006, with the younger Beesley coaching football the next three seasons. Following the 2009 season, Craig was named Cathedral’s athletic director, a rather fitting title for a Beesley. With 201 baseball wins under his belt, the obvious question is whether Craig plans to stick around at the school for 200 more.

“I don’t know if I’ll be around that long, but it’d be nice to,” Craig joked.

“We’re on a good roll right now, and we have some kids coming up from junior high that hopefully we can keep going and make another run at it several years down the road.”

 

 

Michael Kerekes is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3632 or michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.