BEELER LEADS SPRINGDALE TO SUCCESSES IN SOCCER
BY DON LOWE | PHOTOS BY MARK STRICKLAND PHOTOS
In more than a decade and a half with Springdale Bulldogs Soccer Head Coach Donald Beeler in charge of this program, there’s a standard for success that is nothing short of spectacular.
Under Coach Beeler’s watch, Springdale’s senior high boys’ soccer team has become a perennial powerhouse.
There’s a simple approach Coach Beeler had in mind from the start, and he rationalized, “There are fundamental things that are part of every competitive group. If you’re not focused, hard-working and committed, you can’t even get out of the gate.
“On the whole, I could say I’ve tried to bring a possession-oriented style of play to Springdale, where we value the ball. But the truth is, it’s about teaching the players how to see and read the game and empowering them to make the decisions on the field they think need to be made.”
In further explaining the thought process, Coach Beeler conveyed, “Everything we do in training, in some way, ties back to helping the players feel more comfortable on the field by having a deeper understanding of the game.
“I want them to know that as long as they are thinking and getting all the information they can during the game, I’m going to back them on whatever decisions they make, regardless of the result.”
Looking back on how Coach Beeler’s love of soccer began, it was great fun for him as a little lad, playing on a YMCA team in kindergarten and he recalled, “My favorite part about the game was just being around my friends and having the competitive outlet I needed as a young man.”
As a young boy, Coach Beeler figured out being good at the sport he loved didn’t happen overnight and he remembered, “I was always decent athletically, but it took a lot of practice to become an effective soccer player.
“Using your feet to control the ball, it doesn’t come naturally. It’s a skill you must practice a lot. Like swinging a golf club or hitting a baseball, it takes a lot of repetition and it’s not something most people can pick up on late in their athletic careers.”
Coach Beeler also fondly recollected, “When I was young, I spent a lot of time kicking the ball against the garage and my parents were not too happy about that.
“They eventually bought me a flat-faced goal to put in the yard. I was able to spend a lot of time at home with that goal and the ball and just working on getting better. That was a big deal for me.”
While continuing to enjoy playing and even doing so collegiately, Coach Beeler began to ponder life after his days as a student-athlete and reflected, “When I was in high school (Springfield Kickapoo in Missouri), I got the opportunity to help coach my younger sister. That was the first time I thought I might be decent at coaching.
“In college, I chose to play for Baylor, which doesn’t offer scholarships. It was a bunch of guys who loved the game. My whole life, I’d go to school and went to soccer practice. I continued that in college. When it came time to decide on my career path, I wanted to continue what I’d been doing.”
His passion obvious, Coach Beeler assured, “I loved being around the team and being around the game and I wanted that to continue. Choosing a degree that would allow me to make a career out of being around the game and passing on my love for the game was an easy choice for me.”
It was also an easy choice to settle in Springdale and Coach Beeler related, “After graduating from college I was intent on leaving Waco (Texas) to start a career somewhere else. Allison (Coach Beeler’s fiancé at the time) and I looked at several places.
“We both had lifelong childhood friends that had already settled in Northwest Arkansas, so it was on our radar. We were both able to secure summer jobs in Northwest Arkansas and just decided we’d give it a shot.”
That proved to be the right decision as Coach Beeler continued, “Shortly after moving to Northwest Arkansas, I began coaching with the Arkansas Comets soccer club.
“Somehow, Springdale got a hold of my name and resume and called to see if I would be interested in interviewing for a soccer position at the high school. The rest, as they say, is history.”
As he considered what have been the keys to maintaining a championship-caliber level of play year after year, Coach Beeler believes that “Establishing a culture of hard work and commitment continues to pay dividends. It really is about understanding there are no shortcuts and the willingness to work for what you say you want.”
Without a doubt, Coach Beeler takes great pride at the accomplishments here and stresses, “The first thing that comes to mind is all the young men and women I have gotten to see grow up and become amazing adults. That’s the best part about coaching at this level.
“The success of the program has shined a bright light on Springdale High School and displayed how great our kids and staff are here. We love representing our district and school around the state and the nation. We’ve been honored to carry on the long tradition of athletic excellence at Springdale.”