Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — A familiar face is headed back to Chillicothe High School.
After a quick stint at Zane Trace as an assistant to coach Gary Kellough, Pat Beard is returning to the Cavaliers’ bench as their newest head coach.
Beard, who graduated from ZTHS, spent four years with Chillicothe’s girls program from 2013-17. While in that position, he guided his team to a 69-32 overall mark and a district title.
He then spent two years with the boys program as an assistant under coach Eric Huffer. He now replaces Huffer, who spent eight seasons with the Cavaliers.
“For me, this is a place where I’ve spent over 16 years of my coaching career at various levels. I was in a good spot at Zane Trace and I love the kids there,” Beard said. “But something kept pulling my heart strings to come back to a place where it all started for me. Plus, this gives me an opportunity to pour into student-athletes that I’ve known for a long time.”
Beard will be taking over a program that didn’t piece together many wins last winter — an anomaly in an otherwise successful program. The Cavaliers, after losing a ton of talent the year before, won just one game with a group of inexperienced players at the varsity level.
“We’re incredibly excited to have Pat Beard back at Chillicothe High School. Between his drive and experience, combined with the knowledge he has of the program, we’re sure that he is the best person for this position,” Chillicothe Athletic Director Knute Bonner said. “Between his experience with not just the four years he had as our varsity girls basketball coach, but also the years he spent with our boys program as an assistant, I feel that he has both the feel for our program and the drive to get our program in a position to compete at the Division I level.”
But Beard has been in much worse positions before. Before he took over the girls team in 2013-14, the Cavaliers had gone 27-58 over the four years prior.
“I have an advantage because I’ve been involved in the program for so long,” Beard said. “I know most of these kids on a personal level and I’ve done some training with them. So I feel like they know how I coach and what they can expect from me. There will be no surprises. They know that I coach hard and demand perfection.”
Beard drove home the point that while he wants to win, there are more important things on the table. It’s a formula that’s worked for him before and one he expects to work again.
“You hear about discipline, hard work, respect and accountability all the time. And, believe me, those things will be stressed,” Beard said. “But I want my staff to create something special for these young student-athletes. We are coaches but most importantly, we are mentors. Coaches play a vital part in the development of young people and that’s what I want to instill in my staff.”
According to Chillicothe High School’s athletic website, Beard is scheduled to make his coaching debut on Nov. 27 at Fairfield Union. His Cavaliers will then play their first home date on Dec. 3 against McClain in Frontier Athletic Conference action.
“Of course, my expectations are to come in right away and win. That’s how I coach,” Beard said. “But realistically, our job, as a staff, is to establish an experience for these kids that they respect. A coach once told me that a player doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That quote has always stuck with me and that’s how I want our staff to go about building this program. If we can establish that and have willing student-athletes to get on the grind, winning will take care of itself.”