Retired Westport teacher and coach Tom Beauvais, who was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York’s Hall of Fame, is one of six to be inducted as the first members of the schools' Wall of Distinction.
The man credited with putting Section VII girls basketball on the map was enshrined in the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Hall of Fame.
Tom Beauvais, who turned the Westport girls varsity program into a perennial power, was inducted along with seven other coaches March 18 in Glens Falls along with a two basketball officials.
“What a great honor,” Beauvais said as he took to the podium. “I am thrilled to receive this.”
The man known simply as “Coach” said that there were many to thank.
“I think it is important to thank my family for their never-ending support as the sports seasons overlapped and the year turned into one sporting event,” he said. “The parents for the dedication they gave to their children and the program, the players who worked extremely hard to fill their potential and all the assistant coaches who were committed to give the student athletes a positive experience.”
Beauvais added that his greatest moments as a coach have come after the careers of his players are over.
“As coaches and athletes, most of us have played for a coach that has shown us the foundations to build upon for success,” he said. “The biggest thing I take away is the success that our players have carried forward into their lives and the pride that I have in seeing so many of them coaching basketball.”
Beauvais received his Hall of Fame plaque from BCANY Executive Director Dave Archer and Assistant Executive Director Ben Nelson, who had coached with Beauvais.
“We had a great run and a lot of run doing it,” Nelson said. “Tom was a great guy to work with. We had so much fun over those years. It just was a great time.”
Nelson also said that the players that were part of Westport’s success should also take joy out of this achievement.
“What a tribute to them as well,” he said.
Section VII girls basketball chair Greg Waters of Beekmantown said it was a great moment for Beauvais, Westport and Section VII.
“Tom is the first coach to ever get into the Hall of Fame from our Section,” Waters said. “He did a lot for the sport as far as club and AAU basketball. It was incredible when you went through the application process to see the number of things that he was involved in within his community, within the section and within the state.”
“I can’t think of a better person for this honor,” Mike Pratt said. “Tom has been so instrumental in every aspect of coaching in regards to the girls teams. He has been a very positive factor for the girls in Westport and his record really just speaks for itself.”
“It’s been a great ride for Tom,” James Forcier, who was a senior at Westport when Beauvais started his education and coaching career there, said. “He was fresh out of Indiana State University and he grew as a coach just like our kids grew through his experience.”
Current Westport head coach Hokey McKinley, who replaced Beauvais after he retired in 2002, said his attitude was a key part of his appeal.
“It was one of Coach’s real strengths,” McKinley said. “He was always smiling and loved being around the kids. You could see the joy that he brought to it every single day. Even in rough times he was always smiling and positive.”
McKinley added that Beauvais also raised the bar for Section VII basketball, not just the Westport program.
“He raised the level of basketball in Section VII considerably for girls,” McKinley said. “He expected them to be every bit as athletic and committed as the guys. He was the first coach in Section VII to bring that out.”
A number of former players were also on-hand for the induction ceremony, including the Lady Eagles most heralded alum, Julie Freeman-Moore.
“Coach is fun,” she said. “If you like basketball, you are going to love playing for coach. I have always loved the game but when you learn the fundamentals from Coach, it makes it more fun. If you have a question, you have someone that you can go back to. It is about sharing your knowledge and he does that because he does not want anyone to fail.”
“It is a long deserved honor,” said Dr. Erin Pratt Schroeder. “He was the best coach I ever had. Everything is compared to the time that I spent with Coach Beauvais as far as teaching and the life experience.”
“Playing for coach was such an honor,” Julie Frisbee Schloat said. “He taught us discipline and gave us confidence in ourselves as girls. I was able to go on to a teaching and coaching career myself and I felt that I have been able to play out all of the life lessons that Coach Beauvais had taught me.”
“Coach is one of the most wonderful influences in my life,” Alison Beal Honovic said. “Playing basketball for him at Westport was some of my fondest memories.”
“I think it is well deserved,” Frances Holzhauer said. “I was, like, the most uncoachable person ever and I look up to Coach Beauvais because he had his hands full with me and I love him for that.”
“Coach has been great for us and now he is into the hockey and that is something we can talk about,” Becky Holzhauer said.
The leg work to go with the induction was handled through Waters and former Westport player and assistant coach Rebecca Dayton, who said it was an honor to help make the day possible.
“It was a great way to reconnect with the girls that I had played with and the girls that played for him,” Dayton said. “Playing for coach and coaching with him was a great thrill. I was also able to ride home with him from practice since we were neighbors, so getting that 10 minutes of extra coaching each day. We have always had a special relationship and I am just thrilled to be a part of this.”
Beauvais was joined in the BCANY Hall of Fame by officials James Burr and John Cahill; and coaches Les Barton, Paul Callaghan, John Carey, Robert Cimmino, Carlyle Gainey, Sister Maria Pares and Mike Deane.