On a night that was supposed to be all about him, of course, Fred Beile made it about everyone else.
Friday night in the newly renovated and reopened Fuhrer Field House, the Fred Beile Arena dedication drew more than 250 alumni, family and friends connected to the Hall of Fame track and field coach who led the Tigers’ program for more than 29 years.
One of his former athletes, Dr. Bruce Sheffield ’69, and his son, Charles, spoke.
The man who hired him in 1961, Al Papik ’50, also said a few words.
But once the event’s namesake finally took the podium to speak, the theme of the night turned from one man to one family.
“Tonight is not about me, no matter what anybody else thinks. Tonight, for me, is about a program. A program that we call Doane Track and Field, started 100-plus years ago in 1888 when Doane decided to field their first track and field team,” Beile said during a stoic 15-minute speech. “One hundred twenty-six years later, that program is still going strong and that’s a testimony to the people that have been with it and part of it. Each and everyone of you, who’s been either a coach or an athlete in that program, has contributed to that success.”
Beile acknowledged his dear friends in attendance, like University of South Dakota Head Football Coach Joe Glenn, a colleague who began his head-coaching career at Doane before rising to NCAA Division-I prominence at the University of Montana and University of Wyoming. He also made sure to recognize the Board of Trustees, Dr. Carter and Presidents Emeriti Phil Heckman and Fred Brown, whom he said were instrumental in the renovation of Fuhrer and in support of his program.
“The reason we have this building in the form that we have it today is because of these people,” Beile said. “Not because of me. It’s because of them.”
He also made mention of Papik and the late Bob Erickson '57, the other two coaches honored in the Legendary Coaches Campaign. Papik’s name is now attached to the football field at Memorial Stadium while Erickson’s is on the competition court in the George and Sally Haddix Recreation and Athletic Center.
“It would be an honor for anyone to have their name linked to those kinds of people and it is certainly beyond my wildest dreams,” said Beile of Erickson, Papik and also former Tiger coaches Jim Dutcher and Ward Haylett, whose names are both still recognized in Fuhrer.
Beile drew applause on several occasions throughout his time at the podium, but continued to deflect praise. He asked, instead, for current and former Tiger track and field athletes and coaches to stand up and be recognized for the success they had all shared - commemorated by the championship banners hung on the arena's walls.
“These are the people that put all those banners up on the wall. I didn’t put one of them up there,” Beile said. “They’re responsible for all the success that we’ve had.”
Beile was connected to many, if not all, of the athletes at the event. He was hired as the head cross country coach and an assistant track coach at Doane nearly 53 years ago. He became the head men’s track coach in 1973 and the head women’s track coach in 1976. Even since his formal retirement in 2002 (after back-to-back national championships), he has continued to volunteer his time under current Head Coach Ed Fye. Of his former athletes, 327 were NAIA All-Americans, 101 were NAIA Scholar-Athletes and another 60 were individual national champions.
Beile closed his remarks with his sincerest appreciation.
“Thank you for your attention and your kindness to me and my family, and I wish you God’s greatest blessings.”
For more on the Fred Beile Arena dedication, wait for the next edition of Doane Magazine, coming later this spring.