Bill Beard was one of seven individuals inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, September 14. Joining Bill as part of the induction class of 2017 were Brian Brakeman (wrestling), Dan Coughlin (media), Gordon Gund (basketball), Oliver Luck (football), Rick Manning (baseball) and Tom Slater (golf).
Bill Beard was destined to be a coach and by extension a leader and mentor of young men. Born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Bill began playing baseball on neighborhood ball diamonds and hockey at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Pavilion during his youth. He attended Cleveland Heights High School where he graduated in 1980. While a student-athlete at Cleveland Heights he starred on both the sandlot (pitcher/outfielder) and ice rink (defenseman). During his junior and senior year Bill was a two-time All-Scholastic in hockey and a two-time All-LEL selection in baseball. The Tigers advanced to the OHSAA Final-Four in hockey his senior year. After graduation Bill attended Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY for the 1980-81 academic year as a post-graduate student where he played hockey and was recruited to play hockey and baseball at Princeton University.
Bill entered Princeton University in the autumn of 1981. During his freshman year Bill was a defenseman on the hockey team and a pitcher on the baseball team where he received the Kellogg Memorial Trophy awarded annually to the freshman player who excelled in sportsmanship, devotion to Princeton’s baseball interests and athletic endeavor. During his junior campaign Bill received the Edward J. Donovan Baseball Award presented annually to the pitcher who performs best in wins, ERA and strike outs. As a senior Bill was co-captain of the baseball team and the Tigers set a school record for most wins in a season with 29, won the E.I.B.L. Championship and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Bill received the Kafer Memorial Trophy awarded annually to “that member of the Princeton Varsity Baseball team of good moral character, who, during the season, in addition to proving himself a player of ability, has best exemplified the following traits and characteristics: observance of the rules of the game and fairness towards opponents, loyalty and devotion to Princeton’s baseball interests, courage, manliness, self-control and modesty, perseverance and determination under discouraging conditions.” Upon completion of his pitching career, Bill had made his mark on the Princeton Baseball Record Book where he ranks tied third all-time in pitching wins, fourth all-time in pitching winning percentage and is in the top-ten in various other pitching categories. Bill graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of arts in sociology.
Although it was on the baseball diamond where Bill had his most success as an athlete, hockey remained his first love and it is behind the bench where he would go on to be one of the most successful hockey coaches in Cleveland high school history.
Bill began his coaching career as an assistant coach, first at his alma mater Cleveland Heights (1985-88) and then at Padua Franciscan High School (1990-93). In three seasons at Cleveland Heights the Tigers were OHSAA State Champions (1987), OHSAA State Runner-up (1986) and twice GCHSHL Baron Cup Champions (1986, 87). While at Padua the Bruins were OHSAA State Runner-up (1991). During this period Bill also spent a season (1987) as pitching coach at Case Western Reserve University and two seasons (1988-90) as an assistant hockey coach at Kent State University (NCAA D-I) where he managed recruiting for North America. Bill would go on to co-found Team Ohio Midget AAA Hockey where he was an assistant coach for three seasons from 1994-97. Team Ohio assisted aspiring hockey players to move on to play at the Junior and NCAA level. During his tenure Team Ohio qualified for two USA Hockey National Championship Tournaments.
Bill was hired head coach of the Varsity Hockey Team at University School in 1998, transforming the program into a state power. University School would go on to win the OHSAA State Championship in 2003 and 2009, was an OHSAA State Runner-up in 2002 and 2004, a five-time OHSAA State semi-finalist, won nine OHSAA District Championships, seven GCHSHL Baron Cup Championships and four GCHSHL Red-North Division Championships. During the 2008-09 season University School became the seventh school, and first since the 1993-94 season, to win a triple crown (Division, Baron Cup and State Champions) in the same season. After sixteen seasons Bill amassed an overall record of 344-181-48 with his teams winning twenty or more games in twelve of those seasons. During this same time period Bill was selected Coach-of-the Year by the Plain Dealer in 1999, 2003 and 2009. The News-Herald selected Bill as Coach-of-the-Year in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012 as well their Coach-of-the-Decade for the 2000’s. For his contributions to the Greater Cleveland Hockey Community Bill was inducted into the Cleveland Heights Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
After a two-year sabbatical, Bill was back behind the bench as Head Coach at Upper Arlington High School for the 2016-17 season. The Golden Bears finished with an overall record of 21-9-3, thus extending his overall coaching record to 365-190-51.
Bill and his wife Courtney currently reside in Perrysburg, OH. He will be working in the Office of Admissions at Toledo St. Francis de Sales High School where he will continue his love of hockey as an assistant hockey coach. He has two step-children, Bobby (23) and Veronica (19).
The Cleveland Heights Hockey Community congratulates Bill on his induction into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.
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