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Local coaches react to documentary

NATCHEZ — Former Cathedral football coach Ken Beesley got to see himself in a film — and he liked what he saw.

Beesley was one of seven local coaches highlighted in the documentary “Behind the Whistle: A Coach’s Story” as part of the 2011 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, themed “Field of Dreams: Sports in the South.” Film students at the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Natchez campus put the documentary together.

Natchez High School hosted a viewing of the documentary Friday morning at the Steckler Multipurpose Building, which Beesley attended.

“They did an excellent job,” Beesley said. “They really presented what a coach is. You have to be a good role model and act like you should.

“It’s a great profession that makes so many impressions on young people, and makes lifelong friendships too.”

The documentary told the story of Beesley and his son, Craig Beesley, who is currently baseball coach and athletic director at Cathedral. ACCS girls basketball coach Melanie Hall, Natchez High football coach Lance Reed, Duncan Park Tennis Director Henry Harris, former Vidalia High football coach Dee Faircloth and former Vidalia baseball coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir were also recognized.

Stories of how each coach got into coaching, the impact they had on their players and what coaching is really all about were several of the topics the documentary focused on.

“We’re not in it for the money, but the relationships,” Ken Beesley said. “When you see that you’ve made a positive impact on someone’s life, there’s no greater reward.”

Craig Beesley said in the documentary that his father was the reason he got into coaching after studying to be a pharmacist didn’t work out for him.

“That’s all I knew when I was growing up was sports,” Craig Beesley said. “My dad coached everything, and he was very influential in me becoming a high school coach. Both of my parents were great role models.”

Former Natchez High football player Johnny Griffin, who currently works as a voluntary student assistant for the team, said at the showing that Reed had a tremendous impact on him.

“I played from 2005-2008, and didn’t have a passion about coaching at the time, but I do want to coach now,” Griffin said. “(Reed) was a big part of that. He’s a strong person who laid a good foundation here.”

Griffin also said Reed was a father figure that helped him get through some tough situations.

“He knows how to run a program, and has all the qualities you look for in a coach,” Griffin said. “He helped me go down a rough road with some academic situations, being a better athlete and taking care of things on and off the field. He’s been a big part of my life.”

Character, academics and football are the three things Reed uses to lay a foundation for his student athletes, Griffin said.

“As a Natchez native, like coach Reed, I would love to come back and be a successful educator and coach in this elite community,” Griffin said.

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