Feature: Kelly Beckham, Gainesville High School Basketball Coach
December 8, 2016
High school basketball season is officially underway, as Kelly Beckham looks to take his Gainesville High School Hurricanes back to the postseason. Coach Beckham has been the head basketball coach at GHS for seven seasons, and took three of those teams to the Final Four in Lakeland. Beckham won Coach of the Year in Florida in 2009 and in that same year, he led the Hurricanes to a 29-3 record and a Class 5a State Championship title.
That team finished ranked third in the state of Florida, eighth in the South Region (National Prep Poll) and 67th in the nation (Max Preps). It’s fairly safe to say the GHS basketball program has made a name for itself in the state of Florida. As a whole, the program has won five State Championships including back to back titles in 1999 and 2000.
Last season, the Hurricanes finished the season 25-5 which was good enough for a Class 6A District 4 title. The team made it through the next two rounds of the postseason before meeting up with Pensacola High School in the Regional Finals. This was the third season in a row where Gainesville and Pensacola met in the postseason.
With the series tied at 1-1, there was a lot riding on the third game. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, a bad shooting night led to a 45-39 loss. According to Kaijon Scott, who is now a senior point guard for the Hurricanes, the locker room after the game was down, but coach Beckham helped raise their spirits.
With all of that behind them, the Hurricanes are ready for the new season. However, just how easy is it to forget a loss like that? Well, it isn’t, but coach Beckham knows this year’s team is ready to step up to the future challenges the team may face. However, coach Beckham is more than just a basketball coach. He genuinely cares about the well-being of his players and fellow coaches, and they truly appreciate what he has done for the program.
Kelly Beckham, More Than Just a Coach
Coach Beckham has over 700 career wins as a head coach. While truly an outstanding number, not all of those wins were with the Hurricanes. Before his time at GHS, Beckham was the head coach of the Bronson Eagles. I spoke to Enrique Wiseman, who played for coach Beckham during his time at Bronson. Wiseman, who now coaches Volleyball at The Rock School in Gainesville, said “coach Beckham is part of the reason I got into coaching, and I use what he taught me to become a better coach.”
Even assistant coach Hellrung, who has been a member of the GHS coaching staff for 25 years, says coach Beckham has taught him new philosophies that the other coaches did not. Kaijon Scott also said “coach Beckham is the best coach he has ever had.” This could very well be why coach Beckham was named the Gainesville Sun’s Coach of the Year.
GHS Coach Kelly Beckham was named the Gainesville Sun's Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
— GHS Hurricanes (@GHSHurricanes) March 26, 2016
GHS Season Update
As of now, the Hurricanes are 5-0 on the season after defeating Columbia High School last night.
Before going up against Columbia, the Hurricanes had to take care of crosstown rival Buchholz. Gainesville came out on top of what coach Hellrung called “the most packed home game I’ve ever coached in.”
The Hurricanes’ next game will be at Vanguard High School for another district matchup. The last time these two teams met, the Hurricanes eliminated Vanguard from the postseason in a hard-fought overtime game. Not only that, but the Hurricanes defeated Vanguard in the Class 6A District 4 Championship game last season. Coach Beckham knows that the upcoming matchup against Vanguard will be just as hard-fought against an improved Vanguard team.
However, he is still confident his guys can overcome the extra drama. After the strong start, Beckham expects this team to have a great year, but it will be a tough season. With the returning players from last year’s team and with coach Beckham at the helm, keep an eye on the Hurricanes as they look to return to Lakeland for a chance at his second title with Gainesville High School.