Cathedral football names field after former longtime coach

Published 1:15 am Saturday, September 16, 2017

Many of his former players described Coach Ken Beesley Sr. as even keeled, but the longtime Green Wave football coach got a little emotional Friday night as he was engulfed by many of his former players at mid-field.

After having his many accomplishments read over the PA system, Beesley, the players and other former coaches turned to face the north end zone where they witnessed the unveiling of a new sign for Ken Beesley Sr. Field at D’Evereux Stadium.

“Over 40 years, I have seen all the many improvements at this school,” said Beesley, who spent his entire career at Cathedral. “This field is one of the best in the state. I am very proud, very honored to have my name on the field.”

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Beesley said he had not seen some of the players — who came from as far away as Texas — in more than 30 years.

“So many people wanted to congratulate me,” he said. “It makes me feel good that I had a role in so many people’s lives.”

After working with a student athlete, Beesley, who became the school’s head football coach in 1978, said as a teacher and coach you hope you did a good job.

“Tonight proves that,” the Natchez native said. “Words cannot describe the love I have for this school and the students. God blessed me with a good family, and God blessed me with a good job.”

Former Cathedral left tackle and middle linebacker Mitchell Maxwell drove in from Ruston, La. One memory that exemplified Beesley for Maxwell came in 1993.

“We were playing for the South State Championship against Lake, and we were picked to lose in the high 30s to 0,” Maxwell said. “We went in and we beat them 33-0.

“We ended up losing in the state playoffs, but if you looked at that team on paper, we had no business being there. Through his leadership, we were able to make it there. We were proud just to be able to go there and hand him that win.”

Former Cathedral quarterback and linebacker Lawrence Alwood drove in from Baton Rouge. Alwood said he plays cards with several Cathedral graduates, and every time they play Beesley and former cathedral coach Roy Garcia come up.

Alwood said he recalls one particular baseball story against Cathedral’s then rival Bogue Chitto like it was yesterday.

“I struck out, and I went back in the dugout and threw my helmet. I made a lot of noise,” Alwood said. “Coach Beesley was the third base coach, and he was waiting on me between third base and shortstop as I went back to the field. He stopped me and talked about sportsmanship.

“I have kids now, and I think back to all of those life lessons coach taught me in and out of the classroom. I will use what Coach Beesley taught me when I’m coaching my kids in a game.”

Garcia, who was head coach when Beesley first came on as an assistant in 1970, said he had been pushing for the school to honor the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame coach for some time, and he was glad to see it happen. Garcia moved up to athletic director but eventually returned to the sideline as Beesley’s assistant coach.

“He is so deserving,” Garcia said. “He is one of the greatest coaches in Mississippi. He is a great example to young people. He is really like a brother to me.”

The eight-time STAR math teacher said to him the classroom was equally as important. Though he coached the team to 201 wins, Beesley said to him his job was all about having an impact on the students.

“I wanted to get the best out of them,” Beesley said. “Whether in the classroom or in the field. To me, that was what it was about.

“A lot of coaches know their Xs and Os, but it comes down to motivating your players to play — to get them to accomplish things they didn’t think they could do. If they believe it, they can.”