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By Frank Beamer and Jeff Snook. Triumph Books. 320 pages. $26.95
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Frank Beamer and his Hokies have struggled . Some of their wins have been nail biters, and fans have worried. Virginia Tech’s head coach may have as well, but as he explains in his new autobiography, his focus will go beyond the next opponent and this season. For Beamer, the key to success at football or anything else is rooted in relationships, dealing with adversity, and teaching young people to be something worthwhile beyond sports.
This philosophy has served Beamer well as his 26th season as Tech builds on an already admirable record: 20 consecutive bowl appearances, four Atlantic Coast Conference championships, a top-20 ranking in most of their past 21 seasons, including the No. 2 spot when they played for a national championship in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Full of anecdotes and reflections of a man from humble beginnings, “Let Me Be Frank” traces Beamer’s connections to the region and his alma mater, which later became his professional home. He accepted the job of head coach in 1986, and after early losing seasons, began to turn things around. He sought out good people and worked to make them better. He stressed teamwork, claiming that good chemistry wins more games than selfish talent.
To co-writer Jeff Snook’s credit, this collaboration is no polished, spiffed-up version of Beamer. A writer with 30 years’ experience following college football, Snook treads lightly on Beamer’s natural style: folksy and a bit rambling, it elicits the feeling of sitting around after supper reminiscing with someone you already know — and by evening’s end you’ll know better.
Beamer recounts the recruitment, development and two years of spectacular play from the flashiest player ever to come out of the program. Citing Michael Vick’s raw talent and positive attitude, he maintains his protege never got into trouble during his tenure at Tech. Although he describes being stunned and sickened by the quarterback’s dog fighting conviction, he doesn’t turn his back on him.
Yet it was not any single game, season or player that sealed the coach’s legacy as one of the most beloved figures in Virginia Tech history; it was an event far removed from the gridiron. Beamer’s role in bringing the community together after the April 16 shootings was not planned. He stepped in where he saw a need and became the informal spokesperson for a university devastated by tragedy.
For die-hard Hokie fans, this is a must read, though it will be like preaching to the choir. For others more skeptical or just curious, it offers insight into a man who, by many accounts, is the real deal, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy who loves what he does and is thankful for the opportunity to do it.
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