This past weekend in Appleton a man was honored for his contributions to the Appleton and LQPV schools and his community of Appleton. Bill Beck arrived in Appleton in 1958 and fresh out of college was named the head football coach at Appleton high school. For the next 37 years he was the man in charge of the football programs at Appleton and Lac qui Parle Valley schools. Friday night I asked Bill to come to the press box to be part of my pregame show. Well the pregame show went for about forty minutes talking football with Bill.
Bill wanted to stay and help me broadcast the football game between LQPV and New Ulm Cathedral, but he was wanted on the field before the game for the coin toss and to be honored at midfield. Bill is 85 years old and his mind is sharp as ever. I enjoyed sitting down with him recalling his early days as a teacher and coach in Appleton. Times were very different then, Bill said he took the teaching job over the phone and didn’t even have to submit a resume or go in for a interview. He recalls his players by name from the 1958 team, especially the seniors on that team. The seniors on that 1958 football team already had three different head coaches, Bill was their fourth!
Saturday was a big day for Bill and his family. A committee was organized to recognize Bill at the ’52 Wing in Appleton. Every player that played for Bill was personally invited by letter, of course some have already passed away. When I walked into the ’52 Wing Saturday to set up my radio equipment for broadcasting, the boys of fall were already gathering talking about the good old days. The meet and greet with Bill was scheduled to start at 3:30, but at 2:30 guys from every decade were already gathering on the stage visiting. I was listening to some of the stories from the guys and enjoying every minute of it.
The program for Bill was outstanding, they honored the 1973 Appleton Ace football team that played in the state championship game. Many former football players spoke about what Bill meant to them. A common theme from all the players about Bill, was that he was tough on them, but he made playing football fun. Bill cared about each one of them, many of them talked about the relationship they had with Bill. It was almost like being at a funeral, but Bill was sitting right there. That’s the way it should be, tell a person how you feel about them while they are alive.
My oldest son Josh was privileged enough to be coached by Bill. Actually he had three years on varsity with Bill. Bill’s last game he ever coached was with my son Josh who was the quarterback for LQPV in 1994. My favorite story about Bill has to do with my son Josh. Josh was a sophomore and we were in Morris playing the Tigers. Bill put Josh into the game for the very first time as varsity quarterback. His very first varsity pass was intercepted and ran back for a Morris touchdown. Josh came to the sidelines and was upset. Coach Beck, with a smile on his face put his arm around Josh and said “Not too many quarterbacks can say their very first varsity pass went for a touchdown” He had a way of handling every situation with great wisdom and sometimes humor. Thank you Coach Beck.