Private dedication ceremony for Fred Beile Arena set for Feb. 7

Private dedication ceremony for Fred Beile Arena set for Feb. 7

Fred Beile’s athletes set the highest benchmark in the history of Tiger athletics, earning back-to-back NAIA track and field national championships in 2001 and 2002, Doane’s first national team championships in any sport.

But he became a legend at Doane long before, for the benchmarks he set for himself, his teams and staff – benchmarks reached with remarkable consistency. Beile created a tradition of teamwork and team first; of recruiting solid student athletes and inspiring them to overachieve; of promoting hard work and character as the core traits of success.

For that tradition and all of the honors he has brought to the college, Doane will pay tribute to Beile with a private dedication ceremony of the Fred Beile Arena at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 in Fuhrer Field House.

Beile, originally from Park Ridge, Ill., was coaching in Kansas City, Mo., when he was hired by Doane’s Al Papik. Beile became the men’s head cross country coach in 1961. He served as an assistant track coach for 12 years before becoming the head coach in 1973 and serving as an associate professor of physical education. When he began coaching the women in 1975, he formed one track team. During his time as the Tiger’s head coach, Beile’s women’s team won two team NAIA outdoor National Titles and the men’s program claimed the runner-up spot in the 2001 NAIA indoor meet. Thirteen of his teams finished in the top four nationally. On the conference level his teams won more than 60 track and field and cross country titles combined. Overall, he coached 327 All-Americans, 60 individual National Champions, and 101 NAIA Scholar-Athletes during his tenure as head coach. Beile was named NAIA National Coach-of-the-Year six times and is a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame & Doane Hall of Fame. He was named the Lincoln Journal-Star State College Coach of the Year and the Omaha World Herald State College Coach of the Year.

Although he officially retired in 2002, at 82, he remains a daily presence, coaching the 400-meter runners, helping coach hurdlers and writing workouts.

His career was much broader than an individual college. Beile was a past president of the NAIA Track Coaches Association, a member of the board of directors for USA Track and Field and a member of the United States Track Coaches Association board of directors. He also served as a referee at the Kansas and Drake Relays and at the NAIA championships.

“He was always involved at whatever level he could be to push track and field and make it a great sport," said Ed Fye, head track coach and an All American athlete and 1982 Doane graduate recruited by Beile. "It is his passion. It is his hobby. It’s everything he has always done."

Fye credits Beile for starting the tradition that still contributes to the program’s consistent success today. “No one athlete comes in and makes this program. The thing he taught is that the team is most important. We teach them to be teammates first; to work hard and believe in each other. The students pass it from one group to the next.”

Beile also created a two-way street of accountability, Fye said. He held students accountable. His athletes knew he supported them. “He told his coaches: ‘No matter what mistakes (students) make, stand by your kids and fight for them.’”

Doane President Emeritus Fred Brown ’59 calls Beile “a leader who transforms, rather than transacts.” “…Every coach can put athletes on the field and show up for games. Fred takes people with good talent and transforms them into really fine athletes. He leads... His athletes learned life lessons and have gone on to do extraordinary things.”

It was easy to spot Beile’s teams at the end of the track meets, Brown said. “They got around the pits and shouted encouragement. They stayed for the races. They gathered around the track for the last race of the day to get the last point possible – that’s a Beile thing.”

Another Beile thing? Words – or rather, how sparingly he used them. “On my first day at Doane, I asked him what he wanted me to do,” recalled Assistant Coach Dave Dunnigan, who Beile hired in 1985. “He said ‘That’s why I hired you. The only time I’ll talk with you is if I don’t think you are getting out of the kids what I think you should.' He’s a big picture guy. He doesn’t say much, but he demands excellence.”

What Beile did say had a way of motivating students into achieving more than they knew they could. Sometime he joked. Years of athletes heard his catch phrases: “You’re burning daylight” and “You’re slower than my Aunt Sadie.”

Sometimes, they heard a hard-won compliment. “The kids will say they got one compliment from him in four years but it kept them going. He doesn’t hand out praise easily, but they knew he was right there with them and he really cared about them,” Dunningan said.

When Beile and his team won their first national title, it came in a manner fitting the hard work and teamwork creed they lived by. The title came down to the 4x400 meter-relay, the last race of the day. Doane had the slowest qualifying time and needed to finish seventh for a shot at the championship. Doane’s anchor lagged 20 meters behind and in eighth place when the last runner received the baton, but she ran as though first place was in reach. The seventh-place team runner let up when she realized her team could not medal. Doane’s runner did not, crossing the line for a photo finish, a seventh-place relay finish and Doane’s share of a national title.

“It was a historic moment and we will always measure our successes from that point,” Beile said in the days following the first national title.

Doane would too.

Beile completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education at Northern Illinois University, as well as a second master’s degree in physical education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The upcoming rededication is part of Doane’s Legendary Coaches Campaign, which is now complete, with the goal to honor three outstanding coaches by bearing their name in the very places these three men shaped their programs and their students: Al Papik Field, Fred Beile Arena and Bob Erickson Court. 

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