Hall of Fame ND high school basketball coach Ed Beyer dies
FARGO -- Ed Beyer, the legendary North Dakota high school basketball coach who came to symbolize discipline and patience on the court, has died.Beyer died in a Fargo hospital Sunday night. He was 77.Beyer coached the Hillsboro High School boys ba...
FARGO - Ed Beyer, the legendary North Dakota high school basketball coach who came to symbolize discipline and patience on the court, has died.
Beyer died in a Fargo hospital Sunday night. He was 77.
Beyer coached the Hillsboro High School boys basketball team for 37 years, retiring after the 1997 season. He had a 688-195 won-loss mark at Hillsboro. He holds the record for most basketball coaching victories in North Dakota; Dan Carr of Linton-H-M-B recently registered his 689th coaching win, but Carr accumulated 36 wins in Minnesota before moving to Linton in 1981.
Beyer’s daughter, Tammy Nelson, said her father had struggled with his health in recent years.
But, after going into a Fargo hospital last week, “He had the best five days he’s had in years,’’ Nelson said. “He was smart, engaging, remembering things, getting around like a racehorse. But all of a sudden (Sunday) he had a headache, then a brain bleed and, at about 8:50 (p.m.) he passed away.’’
A Burros dynasty
Beyer built one of the strongest basketball programs in North Dakota during his tenure at Hillsboro. He came to the school in the fall of 1960. By the 1961-1962 season, Beyer led the team to the Class B state tournament, the first state basketball appearance in the program’s history.
Beyer’s teams would total 13 state appearances, winning Class B state basketball titles in 1973-74, 1977 and 1981, the latter team going 26-0. His Burros teams won 19 Red River Valley Conference championships.
Beyer coached in the pre-shot clock era and his Burros teams were known for their deliberate style.
“People always associate slowing down a basketball game with Ed,’’ said John Hutchison, who played on Beyer’s first Hillsboro teams, then coached against Beyer during his 29 seasons as Northwood High School coach. “But that wasn’t always the case. He did slow things down, but I don’t think it was as much as people think. His teams worked for good shots. If it took awhile for that to happen, it didn’t bother Ed.’’
The thing with Beyer’s teams was that opponents knew what to expect. The mystery was in stopping it.
“Ed’s teams were easy to prepare for,’’ said Jim Howson, a long-time coaching adversary of Beyer during his tenure as Hatton’s coach from 1966-97. “You always knew what his teams would do. It was a keep-away thing that led to a lot of backdoor layups. It was frustrating (for opponents) because it was so effective. They were good at it.’’
That reputation for a slow, deliberate style covered only half the court.
“Ed’s teams were conservative on offense, no doubt about it,’’ Howson said. “But he played a very up-tempo defense. They pressed, they trapped and they got a lot of easy baskets off their defense.’’
Beyer’s success wasn’t just in his ability as an in-game coach. He stressed fundamentals. And he also understood his athletes as people.
“I loved playing for Ed,’’ said Elliot Rotvold, who played for Beyer from 1983-86 and succeeded him as the Burros’ coach in the 1997-98 season. “He always had a way of pushing the right buttons and getting the most out of his players.
“He was a perfectionist; he wanted things done the right way. Not everybody probably liked that. But he knew his players, who he could get after or who he had to go easy on. That’s how he got the best out of kids, by figuring out personalities.’’
In addition to being known for his successful coaching, the 5-foot-5 Beyer also was known for his attire.
“Ed was flamboyant,’’ Howson said. “He was possibly the best-dressed basketball coach in the midwest with his suits and shiny boots.’’
Off the court, however, rival coaches painted a different picture of Beyer. Down to earth, low key--those are the words used to describe him.
“He was always meticulous,’’ former Mayville-Portland-CG coach Del Kessler said. “Even at summer camps, his clothes were always wrinkle free. That’s how he lived his life, spot on.
“The thing that always impressed me with Ed was that he’d go to bat for a lot of coaches, being very supportive when the need was there.’’
Beyer came to Hillsboro in 1960 after graduating from Concordia College in Moorhead, where he earned a total of 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball.
In addition to basketball, Beyer led Hillsboro baseball teams to the 1962 North Dakota American Legion state title and the Burros to Class B state high school championships in 1967-68.
He is a member of the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, the North Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“People saw the fiery guy dad was coaching on the basketball court,’’ Nelson said. “But he was so different off the court. He had a stack of devotional books that he read every day. He had a gentle, loving way. And he loved to laugh, tease people and have fun.’’