Beard coaching football

Published 12:23 am Sunday, October 16, 2011

United Mississippi Bank Tigers Charlotte Beard talks to her players during their Miss-Lou Youth Football game Saturday afternoon in Vidalia. Beard decided to coach football for the first time in order to convince her grandson to keep playing. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Softball may be Charlotte Beard’s sport, but that didn’t stop her from branching out into a male-dominated field.

Beard is coaching Miss-Lou Youth Football’s United Mississippi Bank Tigers as a first-year football coach. But her knowledge of the game began long before she decided to become a coach this fall.

Beard said her decision to start coaching football stemmed from wanting her grandson to be a part of a winning team.

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“My grandson has played on a team, and they’ve lost every year, so I thought, ‘Well, I know how to pick a team,’” Beard said. “I watch football all the time, and surely I can do this.

“I hadn’t really thought about (coaching) until this year. He didn’t want to play, but I told him, ‘We can do this. I’m going to make it fun for you.’”

And Beard said she knows exactly what kind of skills to target in an athlete.

“Speed, if they can catch, if they can throw, you can just tell (who’s) an athlete,” Beard said.

Although it’s probably hard for most people to envision a female football coach, Beard said she’s not intimidated by the sport, and doesn’t lack any confidence in her coaching ability.

“Absolutely not,” Beard said. “It was no challenge, because I’m athletic. I’m all about sports. I know what look for just from watching it. My husband teaches me as we watch teams play, so that’s how I learned. Of course, I didn’t play.”

From the “film-study” sessions with her husband, Beard said she has picked up a lot of the basics, which help her as a coach.

“Basically, (I picked up) how to play the game. ‘What are those poles for?’” Beard joked, referencing the goal posts.

“You figure out everything. I know the positions of the players and what they’re supposed to do.”

Even with the lack of female coaches in the football coaching ranks, Miss-Lou Youth Football President Mike Bowlin said he didn’t hesitate in allowing Beard to coach when she applied for the position.

“Whenever she does anything, she does it 100 percent,” Bowlin said. “I knew we’d be in good hands.”