Style, grace Beyer looks back on careerJAMESTOWN — High school basketball in North Dakota has never quite been the same since Hillsboro’s Ed Beyer hung up the clipboard back in 1997.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Dickinson Press
JAMESTOWN — High school basketball in North Dakota has never quite been the same since Hillsboro’s Ed Beyer hung up the clipboard back in 1997.
Gone from the sidelines of the many gymnasiums where his teams found plenty of success during his 37-year tenure were the countless eye-catching sport coats the legendary coach would don while directing his boys from the bench.
Worn in various styles and colors, Beyer would have made the always boisterously dressed NBA sideline reporter Greg Sager proud.
“Way back when I was young, when I went to church and Sunday school, everyone wore a suit or a sport coat,” Beyer said. “My dad liked clothes, and he was always buying me new suits and sport coats. It kind of came natural.
“But when I look back at some of the pictures, they were kind of loud.”
Beyer will be enshrined in the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, along with Lakota’s Rick Helling and Jamestown’s Darin Erstad. The induction ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Jamestown Civic Center, following a social and silent auction starting at 5:30.
Beyer is no stranger to receiving accolades, after amassing a career record of 688-195 while winning four state Class B boys basketball championships in 1973, ’74, ’77 and ’81. The 1981 Hillsboro Burros ran the table, going a perfect 26-0 en route to the title.
Beyer is already a member of the North Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame (’87) and he was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., the year after his retirement.
But being called into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, where the likes of famed NBA coach and Williston native Phil Jackson and other nationally recognized sports figures reside, came as quite an honor.
“This is a surprise to me. It has to (rank) way up there,” Beyer said. “I’ve had a lot of honors and won just about everything you can win as a coach, which shows how fortunate and lucky I’ve been. But this one kind of surprised me.”
Born in Appleton, Minn., in 1938, Beyer attended Concordia College in Moorhead after graduating from Elbow Lake High School in 1956, where he earned 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. Beyer was the starting second baseman for the Cobbers for four years and batted .415 as team captain during his senior season.
Beyer came to Hillsboro in 1960 and taught vocational office education classes for the next 37 years. Beyer was the offensive coordinator and backfield coach for Hillsboro’s football team for 15 seasons, during which time the Burros posted a record of 103-19.
Beyer also coached kids on the diamond. He guided Hillsboro to the 1962 State Legion Baseball Championship, and also coached the high school baseball team for eight seasons winning state titles in 1967 and ’68.
But on the basketball court is where Beyer made a name for himself and Hillsboro.
“When I came there, Hillsboro knew very little about basketball. But my first year there we got to the state tournament for the first time in their history,” Beyer said. “In 1968 we went back and got third, and in the ’70s and ’80s we were very successful.
“We got tradition going, and tradition is an amazing thing,” Beyer added. “All the little kids were out there watching and they wanted to grow up and play for the Burros. It was tradition and great attitudes from players and parents.”
Up until Class B basketball implemented the shot clock one year ago, another Beyer staple was often seen being played out on the court long after the coach had retired.
Beyer is known to be the first North Dakota coach to implement — as Beyer puts it — the “delay game.” This offensive style was used to keep the lead late in a game by protecting the ball and letting the clock run down.
“I grew up playing basketball and watching basketball. I had done it all my life and I always wanted to be a coach,” Beyer said. “I had watched a lot of teams get a lead and then throw the ball away or throw up a quick shot and lose a ballgame I thought they should have won.”
The game-ending tactic caught on quick with Beyer and the Burros.
“I’d call a timeout in the fourth quarter when we had a little lead, and I’d always kid (the team) and ask them what we should do,” Beyer said. “They knew. They’d say, ‘Run the delay game. Run the delay game.’
“We did get booed a few times,” Beyer chuckled.
Hillsboro won 79 percent of its games under Beyer, and to go along with their four state titles Beyer’s teams made 13 total state tournament appearances and won 19 Red River Valley Conference Championships.
Beyer retired with the most wins (688) of any North Dakota boys basketball coach.
The coach has never wandered too far away from Class B boys basketball since retiring. His son-in-law Dave Nelson — who was a first team all-stater for Hillsboro when the Burros defeated Epping 56-52 for the state championship in 1977 — coached the Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg boys to a pair of state basketball titles in 2002-03.
Beyer’s grandson, and Nelson’s son, Craig, played on both those teams. Craig went on to play NCAA Division II ball with Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., and is currently the head boys basketball coach at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“I’ve got an athletic family. (Basketball) has always kind of been there. Everybody has been coaching and teaching,” Beyer said. “I’d go and help Dave. He’d call and go to help at practice. I’ve still kind of been involved and I still enjoy it.”
Many of Beyer’s family members will be in attendance on Saturday, presumably to hear just what the coach will say when it’s his turn at the podium.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Beyer said. “I’ll put something together.”
Ed Beyer’s coach accomplishments
688 overall basketball coaching victories; 74 overall baseball coaching victories; 4 NDHSAA State Boys Basketball championships (1973, ‘74, ‘77, ‘81); 2 NDHSAA State Baseball championships (1967, ‘68); 13 NDHSAA Regional Boys Basketball championships; 3 NDHSAA Regional Boys Baseball championships; 19 Red River Valley Boys Basketball conference championships; 2 NDHSAA Class B Boys Basketball State Coach of the Year (1973, ‘74); 4 National High School Athletic Coaches Association Region 6 Boys Basketball Coach of the Year (1985, ‘91, ‘94, ‘97); NDHCA Executive Committee (1981, ‘86); NDHSCA President (1984); National High School Athletic Coaches Association Boys Basketball Coach of the Year (1997); NHSACA Distinguished Service Award (1998); NHSACA National Hall of Fame Inductee (1998); NDAP Sportswriter/Sportscasters High School Coach of the Year (‘97); NDHSCA Hall of Fame Committee Chairman; NDHSAA Boys Basketball Advisory Committee; NDHSAA Athletic Review Committee (1983); NDHSAA Lion’s All-Star Basketball Chairman (1984-97); NDHSCA Distinguished Service Award (1997); Hillsboro Public Schools Hall of Fame (2006).