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H.S. sports: Floyd County honors veteran coaches Beale, Cantrell

H.S. sports: Floyd County honors veteran coaches Beale, Cantrell

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When the 2020-21 high school seasons finally do get underway, two of Floyd County High School’s athletic venues will have new names.

The Floyd County School Board voted earlier this month to name the football field in honor of longtime coach Winfred Beale and the basketball court for former girls basketball coach Alan Cantrell.

The school board approved a resolution after receiving a petition with more than 250 names, including Floyd Mayor Will Griffin.

“I ran track for Coach Beale and I was a manager for Coach Cantrell’s girls basketball team,” Griffin said. “We’re lucky to have them.”

The two started coaching in the 1970s. Cantrell retired in 2017, while Beale, who also serves as the track and field coach for the Buffaloes, will be in his 39th season as the football coach when games are again allowed to be played amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cantrell coached both girls and boys basketball teams and finished his career with 991 victories. He holds the VHSL record for the most girls basketball wins.

Cantrell’s teams won four girls basketball state championships and one boys title. His daughter Melissa and son Travis were on state championship teams helmed by their father.

Home-court advantage is statistically proven to be worth three to seven points. Cantrell said “home court” had an additional meaning for him — especially when girls and boys basketball seasons were not played concurrently, as they are now.

“For 10 months of the year, the court was home for us,” he said. “We had the summer camp and then open gym, with the girls season starting in August and the boys following right after that, running hopefully into March.”

Basketball became a community event during the Cantrell era. The Buffs hosted district, regional and even state playoff games, which regularly were standing room only an hour before tipoff.

“There were a lot of good games, but I don’t know that any one in particular stands out,” Cantrell said. “The memories that mean the most to me are when we’d take the floor for the first day of practice.

“And then it was always special when the team took the floor for the first home game and the fans got a look at what kind of team we had. And then senior night, when players came out on the floor for the final time, that always meant a lot.”

Beale has had three state runners-up in football and has a state championship in boys track and a state runner-up in girls track. His track and field athletes have won dozens of individual event state titles.

Beale has more victories and more years than all of the rest of the current Three Rivers District football coaches combined.

During his career, the field and surrounding facilities have been upgraded. During his high school days, he played on the football field and ran on the track.

“I feel honored and humbled by this,” Beale said. “Over the years I’ve benefited from a lot of good assistants and players.”

Among the best memories was a 1984 win over Galax, which was the top-ranked team in the state at the time and came into the game undefeated and unscored upon. The Buffaloes also had a miraculous last-minute 14-13 comeback win over Lebanon in a 2008 Group A, Division 2 semifinal.

Floyd County Principal Barry Hollandsworth said there would be dedications for the football field and the basketball court, probably at the first home game of the next season.

“They built successful programs and had longevity,” he said of honoring the coaches. “It’s a no-brainer.”

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It is not full-scale out-of-season practice or open gyms, but it is a step up from individual conditioning drills that teams have been limited to since the VHSL began allowing limited workouts in late June following the complete shutdown caused by the virus in March.

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