Coach Bean’s Last Postgame Speech

Wheaton SoccerThis evening I watched my team lose. On a computer screen hundreds of miles away, I watched the Wheaton Men’s Soccer team lose 3-0 in the National Championship Final to a Messiah College team that is arguably one of the best in NCAA Div 3 history. Frankly, we were outclassed by a superior team with awesome talent and great depth who is very well coached and extremely disciplined in their style of play.

Usually, it would’ve been a much better game. Wheaton is a perennial D3 soccer powerhouse. Coach Joe Bean has been at the helm for 38 years and is the first college soccer coach in history to reach 600 wins. We’ve made a record-tying 29 appearances in the national tournament, reaching the Final Four five times, winning in 1984 and 1997. Losing is anathema to Wheaton Soccer.

But tonight, after a great stretch of winning eight games straight to reach the finals, it came to an end. It had been a regular season considered subpar for Wheaton Soccer. We had lost to some teams we usually dominate and ended with a record of 9 wins, 7 losses, and 3 ties. However, despite everyone’s lowered expectations, and motivated by the opportunity to honor a Coach who has so long honored a set of priorities bigger than himself and soccer, the team fought all the way to the national championship finals. And for that, they are to be commended.

But more importantly, tonight was Coach Bean’s last game. Tonight was his last stand. As I watched the team huddle after the defeat, I didn’t have to be there to know what Coach was saying. I know he wasn’t really focused on the game or losing. He didn’t belabor the adversity the team had overcome. No, not Coach Bean. He was using words like discipline, honor, and love. He was speaking about how fortunate the players and coaches are to experience the joy and camaraderie of being a team.

Though I wasn’t there, I can imagine what he said because I know Coach Bean’s heart. He’s been saying the same thing for 38 years at Wheaton. We can’t lose when we do our best for the glory of God.

Years later, after the patina of experience shines light on their Wheaton days, the players on the field tonight will know what I and hundreds of other Wheaton soccer alumni know. More than the great memories of playing a game I love with a bunch of guys I count as brothers, Wheaton Soccer taught us about love, passion, and the pursuit of excellence. Coach Bean taught us about what it means to work together for a goal greater than oneself, about using our resources for the Kingdom, and how to be men. Even though I watched from afar, on a screen hundreds of miles away, I didn’t have to be there. I knew what he was saying. Thanks, Coach!

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2 Responses

  1. And “Thanks, Scott”.

    You were already a man of God by the time you reached Wheaton and Coach Bean’s team, but that does not diminish his impact on your life. For you, as for countless others, the influence of Coach Bean as a Godly mentor and friend will have Kingdom implications for lots longer than another 38 years.

  2. I had Joe Bean as a coach in the 1965 & 1966 seasons @ the U of Bridgeport. He was a 26 year old -in the head coaches position @ a national soccer power house, that regularly would qualify and compete for the National title – all divisions.
    The teams were very diverse, reflecting what you might expect in the metropolitan New York-New Jersey area. Joe Bean established his selfless and capable leadership style during this period – I’m sure that it had been ingrained in him by his own parents- I’m grateful to have been there & learned from him. I congratulate him & offer my very best wishes.

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