Happy Retirement, Coach Beamer

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After 29 seasons, 234 victories and countless special teams drills, Frank Beamer is coaching his final game at Virginia Tech. It’s widely known that Coach Beamer is one of the most respected figures in college sports, but we wanted to find out how he guided the individuals surrounding him. To do this, we asked several former players (and numerous Fuller brothers) to share how Coach Beamer and his staff impacted their lives. Just as we suspected, people like the guy.

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Michael Vick, QB (1998-2000)

Quite simply, Frank Beamer got the job done.

To be good at anything for many decades is an accomplishment, but to survive as a head coach in one of college football’s toughest conferences for 29 years is truly special. But I don’t want to focus on his numbers and accolades so much as what made him such a great leader.

I’ve experienced a lot of things with Coach Beamer throughout the years — plenty of highs and a few lows. But I’ll always be grateful for the way he guided all of us as young men. He provided a presence in our lives that many us had never had before. It was how he handled us when we weren’t at our best that made us respect him. He had the capacity to be stern, but he was also forgiving. He really did treat his players like sons, and we knew deep down he wanted what was best for us.

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I want to make sure proper credit is given to Coach Beamer’s coaching staff. He assembled a group of extremely hard-working people who approached the game the same way he did, and it brought a lot of stability to the program. This is a time for all of us to reflect on and admire the people who laid the foundation for what Virginia Tech football is today.

There are so many things I can say about how Coach has made me a better person, but I’ll sum it all up simply like this:

Thank you.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Coach.

– Michael Vick, #7

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Vincent Fuller, CB (2001-04)

In 2002, I was a redshirt sophomore at Virginia Tech and we were the third-ranked team in the country. We were on a roll and had a home game coming up against the University of Pittsburgh. Now, Pitt had this freshman All-American wide receiver you might have heard of named Larry Fitzgerald. He was a problem, but I was confident in my ability to minimize his production against us.

I was coming off of a few solid performances in our previous games, and I matched up pretty well size-wise, so Coach Beamer decided to put me on Fitzgerald for most of the game.

It did not go well.

When the dust settled, he had two touchdown catches against me, and we ended up losing our first game of the season in an upset. To make things worse, we lost two more close games after that.

During that losing streak, Coach Beamer pulled me aside during practice one day and said, “Look, you’re playing well. Just keep it up. I have confidence that you’re going to come up big for us when we need you. You just keep preparing for games the right way and continue putting yourself in the right positions to make plays. It’s all going to come together for you.”

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I can’t express what an impact that had on me. Even when I knew I wasn’t playing well, the coaching staff didn’t quit on me. In fact, they did the exact opposite. They put their faith in me. I was just a kid trying his best, and they recognized that and nurtured it. That’s bigger than football, and it sums up why Coach Beamer is so respected at Virginia Tech.

I was the first of four brothers to play for the Hokies, and each of us benefited from our time in Blacksburg in different ways. The biggest thing I took away from my time there was the importance of getting the little things right. Coach Beamer would always say, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will happen.” Each action — every sprint, every bench-press rep and every hour spent watching film — builds on the last one until you reach your goal.

That approach ended up transferring over to my personal life. Similar to my preparation for football, if I could take care of the little things in my personal life, the bigger goals were easier to attain. Years later, as a second-year law student at Fordham University, I’m still benefiting from Coach Beamer’s approach to life and coaching.

On behalf of my family and myself, I want to thank Frank Beamer and his coaching staff for bringing us along. We’re better football players because you coached us, and better people because you believed in us.

– Vincent Fuller, #8

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DeAngelo Hall, CB (2001-03)

I had mixed emotions after hearing news that Coach Beamer was retiring. Though I knew the day would eventually come, I never actually thought it was going to happen.

When I look back at my time at Virginia Tech, my only regret is that I wasn’t there longer.

Each and every member of Coach Beamer’s staff took on a little bit of his personality. They were loving, honest, tough (but fair) and most of all, fatherly. Like many young black males, I grew up without a father. So when it was time to start searching for colleges, my mother wanted to make sure I went to a school that not only offered me a great education but a place where I could continue to grow as a young man. I needed strong moral guidance as much as a strong education.

From the very first time I met Coach Beamer as a 15-year-old kid attending VT summer football camp, I felt a special connection with him. As the years passed, we stayed close, and when I graduated from high school, I enthusiastically signed my letter of intent to become a Hokie. Coach Beamer said that my recruiting class had the talent to play for a national championship. Looking back, he was right. Though I didn’t stay in school for my senior year (which is one of the biggest regrets on my life), that Virginia Tech team that I would have been on ended up winning the ACC in their first year in the conference. They lost to an undefeated Auburn team 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl, but I’d like to think that if myself and Kevin Jones were on the team, we would have delivered Coach Beamer the national championship he so very much deserves.

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Honestly, that still haunts me to this day. I feel like I let Coach Beamer down, even though I know he would never tell me that. When I met with him and the other coaches to tell them I was forgoing my senior year to enter the draft, Coach Beamer was very supportive, and encouraged me to go for it. He knew as well as anybody that I might have been able to help our team, but he wasn’t thinking about the team. He was thinking about me. That’s just the kind of person Coach Beamer is, putting aside his own wants and needs in order to make sure each and every one of his players had the best chance to succeed on and off the football field.

This is my long way of say that Coach Beamer and Virginia Tech made me a better person. I arrived there a young kid without much direction, and I left a confident and educated young man.

Coach Beamer and Mrs. Beamer, thank you for everything during my time at Virginia Tech. We will forever be family and you will forever be an important part my life.

I love you guys.

– DeAngelo Hall, #4

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Corey Fuller, WR (2010-12)

Coach Beamer is a second father figure to a lot of guys within the Virginia Tech program. My brothers and I were fortunate enough to have a father growing up, but not every kid has that. So at Virginia Tech, Coacher Beamer created a family atmosphere.

I actually started out my college career at Kansas, where I had a track scholarship. Honestly, I thought my football days were over. But as a little time passed, I started to get that itch. I spoke to my dad, who eventually talked to Coach Sherman, the recruiting coordinator at Virginia Tech. Once we got the green light to join the football team, I was back where I belonged in Blacksburg.

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I didn’t need any visits or wooing or anything like that. I knew what the program was all about from my brothers. Coach Beamer was a big reason why we all chose this path. It’s the place where we all grew up, and I’m so thankful for my time there.

Whenever I go back to visit, I always have to check in with Coach Beamer. He always greets you with open arms, no matter how long it’s been. Even after you stop playing for him, your relationship doesn’t end. He cares for you unconditionally, like a good father should.

Congratulations on an amazing career, Coach.

– Corey Fuller, #83

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Brandon Flowers, CB (2004-07)

Coach Beamer just has an aura about him.

That’s really the only way to describe it. He’s the kind of guy who has this cool demeanor that makes people gravitate towards him.

I picked that up the very first time we met. I was attending Hargrave Military Academy, and coach pulled up in a truck to watch one of my practices. I’m just a kid from a small city in Florida, and here’s Frank Beamer — the Frank Beamer — here to watch me practice. There were other SEC schools trying to bring me in for visits, but when Coach extended an offer that day, it only took me only a couple of seconds to know I was going to be a Hokie. You see, it was a simple decision: Virginia Tech had Frank Beamer, and every other school didn’t.

I’ve never regretted that decision. Not once.

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He didn’t just instill in me the skills to play in the NFL, he equipped me with the maturity and discipline to stay in the league for a long time. He ran a tight ship, and his style of dealing with his players made the transition to the next level pretty easy. He treated us like adults and held us to that standard. It was about trust, not fear. He wasn’t someone you were scared of making mad so much as you never wanted to disappoint him. That’s a real leader.

At most programs, special teams is where you stick your backups and walk-ons. But at Virginia Tech, our starters would be angry if they weren’t placed on punt return and kickoff duty. He didn’t just encourage us to take the less glamorous aspects of the game seriously, he actually treated those tasks as a privilege. He just made football so fun.

Coach Beamer ran the Virginia Tech program like a family. Plenty of college coaches sell that idea to recruits, but with Frank, you could sense that atmosphere all around campus. Just look at a guy like Bud Foster, who has been with the program for decades. Other schools are constantly involved in the coaching carousel, but people at Virginia Tech usually stay there for a long time. There’s something to that.

He may no longer be the head coach, but Frank Beamer will always be the most important member of the Virginia Tech football family. I can’t thank him enough.

– Brandon Flowers, #18

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Kyle Fuller, CB (2010-13)

As a coach, Frank Beamer was neither super strict nor super friendly. I think that’s a good mix to be around when you’re a young kid finding his way. But regardless of what I did on the field, I always knew he cared about me. He would always harp on us to do the right things, to keep our focus on the small stuff. “Take care of the little things, and the big things will come.” That phrase will forever be cemented in my mind because of my time at Virginia Tech.

So many of my family members have attended the school that it really feels like a second home. I have so many good memories from when I was a little kid visiting my brother on campus, and every time I came back over the years, I’d be greeted by the same sights and people. Now, years later, even after I’ve graduated, every trip back to Blacksburg feels like a journey down memory lane. Small things would change, of course, but that one constant was always Coach Beamer guiding the ship.

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I owe a lot of my success to being brought along the right way in college by the good people at Virginia Tech. The entire coaching staff worked together so well and knew when I needed to be pushed and when I needed to be encouraged. I’m so thankful to them for that.

I’d like to wish Coach Beamer a happy retirement. Thank you for everything you did to make me a better football player and a better man.

– Kyle Fuller, #17

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Ryan Williams, RB (2008-10)

When Virginia Tech made its first visit to my home when I was in high school, Coach Stinespring, Coach Gray and Beams rolled in and immediately put a No. 34 Hokie jersey right there on my mom’s table. Wearing that number in college was actually a pretty big thing for me, so when they placed it right there between the chicken wings and the celery sticks, it definitely struck the right note. I was sold.

I always felt comfortable around Coach Beamer. The great coaches create an environment that you want to be in. It’s not any one specific thing that draws you, but more so just a welcoming feeling. That was what Virginia Tech football was under Frank Beamer.

He was a coach whose door was always open. Everyone knew that Coach Beamer was never too busy for his players.

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I’ve been coached by a lot of people throughout my career, and oftentimes you come across those who curse and scream at every mistake. But in my years at Virginia Tech, I never saw Coach Beamer disrespect anybody. If he had a problem with something you did, he would pull you off to the side and talk to you like a man. He wasn’t out there trying to humiliate you in front of your teammates. He always trusted that we were trying as hard as we could for him.

He never gave particularly long or fiery pregame speeches. But he was a bell-cow ringer, for sure. He knew exactly what he had to say, and told it to us deliberately. Hearing someone talk with confidence like that is inspiring.

We always wanted to win big games because that meant Coach Beam might stand on his stool and start dancing. The first time I ever saw him do his little dance was after my first game against UVA. He stood up, loosened his tie a little bit and got down like we do. That … is a sight, man.

When you watch Coach Beamer walk around campus at Virginia Tech, you notice how everyone gravitates towards him. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. His coaching days might be over, but the legacy he’s left behind at Virginia Tech is going to follow him forever. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, man.

Congratulations on a great career, Coach Beam.

– Ryan Williams, #34

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Kendall Fuller, CB (2013-present)

I’ve been around the Virginia Tech program since I was five years old, when my brother Vinnie was in school. Since then, there wasn’t too much mystery about where I wanted to go to college. I’ve been a fan of the Hokies and Frank Beamer for as long as I can remember.

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It’s been an honor playing at Virginia Tech during the home stretch of Coach Beamer’s career. The biggest thing I noticed is that his passion for coaching, and especially for his players, has never faded. We all feed off of that. These past few weeks have kind of been a celebration here. Everybody is really happy for him. After everything he has done for Virginia Tech and for so many young men, we really want to send him off on a winning note.

Playing for Coach Beamer and his staff has truly been a privilege. I’m thankful for everything they’ve done for my family, and I’m hoping we get to celebrate one last big win together.

– Kendall Fuller, #11

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