With the scoreboard in the background, Jack Beach umpires a baseball game at the 2018 Regional Tournament that was held in Fallon.
Photo by Steve Ranson.
His unflappable demeanor defined former Fallon athlete and coach Jack Beach and how he bled green and white.
A talented athlete in high school, Beach played on state championship games in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a coach, he served as the offensive coordinator on three Greenwave football teams that won three state championships and guided the baseball team to back-to-back titles in 1977 and 1978. Beach, who died on June 15 after a brief illness, earned Nevada AA Coach of the Year honors in 1978.
“Nothing seemed to rattle or excite him,” said retired principal Judy Pratt, who was Beach’s assistant athletic director in the 1980s. “He was very much the opposite of me, but it worked for the nine years I served under him as assistant athletic director and currently our time on the Greenwave Hall of Fame Board together.”
His love for sports and working with athletes was unparalleled over a five-decade span. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association inducted Beach into the 2010 Hall of Fame, and he entered the Greenwave Hall of Fame in 2017. The 1977-78 state championship baseball teams that Beach coached will be inducted into this year’s Greenwave Hall of Fame on Oct. 2.
Beach also coached girls golf coach (1990-1992), the varsity football team (1993-1995) and again as the girls’ golf coach (1996-1998). From 1980-89, he became the high school’s athletic director.
“When you talked to him about sports in Fallon, you could feel his love for the community and his pride in seeing others succeed,” said Steve Heck, president of the Greenwave Hall of Fame. “While he enjoyed talking about Fallon athletics, he was most comfortable getting something done and moving a program forward. He didn't just talk about it, he made things happen. He was one of those guys who just loved Fallon and supported the Greenwave selflessly.”
The 71-year-old Beach was remembered last week for his love of family and the number of lives he touched in the classroom as a math teacher and on the field. Even after he retired, Beach taught and then served as an administrator for Logos Christian Academy. He was always one to offer sage advice and did so with his daughter, Kasey Chu, after she became the Lady Wave softball coach in 2018
Chu began her high-school coaching career by completing a five-year stint at Spanish Springs before returning to the Lady Wave, a team she played on in the early 2000s. While with Spanish Springs, the Cougars won a pair of state titles.
Jack Beach, left, talks to Athletic Director Brad Daum at the 2018 Hall of Fame weekend.
A big influence
No one expected the Lady Wave’s success three years ago, and Chu credits her father for helping her navigate through the bumpy waters and led the team to a 27-9 record.
“The biggest way he helped was just being an ear to listen, (and) someone who had so much experience with working with different athletes and parents,” Chu said. “It’s never easy being the new person. He would always have a little advice but by the end of the conversation he made sure I knew that I was the coach and he would support any decision that I made. He never let me second guess my decisions, but he always told me to stand by him.”
Although Fallon lost in the semifinals last month, Chu said her father was there to comfort her.
“So many of the things I learned when playing for him I have tried to pass onto the girls I have coached,” Chu said. “He continued to tell me to keep pushing them and to block out everything else. I definitely have so much more respect for him and all the years that he coached after coming back to coach in Fallon.”
Yet, Chu remembers playing for her father and how he didn’t give her special treatment. Every single day he pushed Chu along with the rest of the players.
“I respected him as my coach and that I was treated like every other girl out there,” she recalled. “Once practice or a game was over, we talked about it there, but it never followed us home. At home he was my dad, not my coach.”
His oldest and only son, Jeremy, said he remembers his father being strict but fair.
“He always made sure the other players and me understood what was being taught even if it took all practice,” Jeremy said. “Dad had a really loud voice that often came off like he was mad or upset at what you were doing. But it was just him caring all that much. He coached the Dodgers in Little League, and I think we won a couple league championships.”
Jeremy said his father’s patience with Kasey and him is something he’ll never forget. Over the years, Jeremy said he probably tested Jack’s resolve.
“Giving people a second chance and forgiveness are two things he was good at and tried to instill into me,” Jeremy said. “I only hope I have a heart as big as his.”
Beach’s sister Peggy eulogized him as a family and community man. Regardless of the reason, she said those in attendance at the funeral were there because he touched them. Peggy also told when Jack noticed she was turning blue in her crib, and he told her parents.
“He saved my life,” she said.
According to Peggy, her brother’s greatest fans were their parents who would drive for miles to see him play. Peggy said Jack didn’t teach “just” life skills but life’s lessons. He became an umpire in his later years, but when watching a game, he would walk the sidelines or sit beyond the outfield fence.
His brother Dan cherished their friendship.
“As we grew older and had families of our own, would visit Jack and his family in Fallon,” Dan said. “Jack was always there in good times, bad times.”
Dan said Jack was not only a brother but also a friend.
“I am having a very hard time accepting Jack is gone,” Dan said. “He was my brother for 71 years. I will miss him.”
Beach was just as knowledgeable as any other Silver State legend who played on the field of competition. He quarterbacked CCHS in 1966 and 1967 and earned all-league and all-state honors in his final year. During the late 1960s, he led the Greenwave to the zone and state basketball championship in 1966, and a zone title the following year. Conference coaches selected him for both all-league and all-state recognition in 1968.
Beach played for three years on the baseball team and was part of a strong lineup that guided the Wave to state titles in 1966 and 1967. Beach completed a hat trick for being a three-sport athlete. He was named to the all-league and all-state teams as a catcher.
A graduate of Western Montana College in Dillon, Beach returned to Nevada and taught in Ely. He soon returned to Fallon to accept a teaching and coaching positions in 1974. Beach became the Greenwave’s offensive coordinator for the varsity football team and saw Fallon compile three straight AA titles in 1976-78. Before he became the baseball coach, Beach also coached the junior varsity baseball team for two seasons and stepped up to take the varsity in the late 1970s when the Greenwave won two straight state trophies.
Alisha Hill photo
The Greenwave Hall of Fame committee from 2018.
Back row, from left, Randy Beeghly, Steve Heck, Paul Orong, Dave Lumos, Jack Beach, John Dirickson and Steve Ranson. Front row, from left, Judy Pratt, Sheree Jensen, Angela deBraga and Julie Richards. Not pictured is Larry Barker and Cary Gantt.
Latest sports roll call
The two state championship baseball teams will be part of the latest roll call of athletes included into the Greenwave Hall of Fame.
Wade Detomasi, one of the few ballplayers who still lives in Fallon, competed on the two state championship teams and earned the win in relief as a pitcher in the Greenwave’s 3-2 win over Boulder City in 1978. Detomasi, now in his early 60s, also swatted a pair of doubles against the Eagles. During the season, Detomasi batted .429 and led the team with 24 RBIs. The two teams played in Fallon, which was more exciting for the Greenwave players and fans. To advance to the state game, Fallon shut out Elko 1-0.
After the win against Boulder City, Beach told Reno sportswriter Ray Hagar he was emotionally drained and sad to see most of the team graduate that year. Fallon finished 11-2 in the Northern AA, 15-6 overall.
“I’m drained,” Beach said after Fallon’s exciting come-from-behind win. “I feel like I’ve aged 10 years from that Elko game last Friday until now. These kids are making me gray. It’s hard to get them up mentally, but they seem to rise to the occasion when their backs are against the wall.”
Detomasi said the team’s chemistry developed over the years.
“We meshed together well,” Detomasi said of the teams. “Everyone knew the other’s ability. It was a good time.”
Detomasi said when the players were younger, they competed on the various Little League all-star teams. Many of those same players earned spots on the roster. Detomasi also reflected on his time playing for Beach.
“Jack was pretty level-headed,” Detomasi said. “If you need correcting, he would give that to you, too. He would take to you like an equal. He didn’t try to pretend he was better.”
About a year ago Detomasi said he saw Beach jogging down a road. Detomasi stopped and talked to Beach, and their conversation drifted to the Greenwave Hall of Fame and the team’s induction.
Jack Beach, last row, left, coached the offense in the mid-1970s when Fallon won three consecutive state AA football titles.
Once in a lifetime athlete
Legendary Fallon football coach Tony Klenakis compiled a 77-49-7 record from 1966-1979, and the Greenwave won 20 straight games during its title runs from 1975-1977 and 23 consecutive league games from 1975-1978. He also earned Northern Nevada and State AA Coach of the Year honors during the mid-1970s.
Beach was part of three straight state championships.
“Jack was very important to our offense,” Klenakis said.
During his stint as the offensive coordinator, Beach first worked with quarterback Randy Beeghly and for the next two years with Sonny Zamora. Football in the fall, baseball in the spring. Five state titles for the Greenwave.
“It was a very exciting time in the mid-1970s, great times,” Klenakis said, adding the players responded well to him.
“They really like him,” Klenakis said of Beach.
During Beach’s final two years in high school, he was considered by Klenakis and other coaches as a good quarterback.
“He was a great thrower, ran the option play,” Klenakis pointed out. “Jack was a very smart athlete, and it carried over to coaching. He loved offensive football.”
After their coaching days, both men remained friends and attended the same church together.
Norma Klenakis and her husband have cherished memories of entertaining Beach at their house and knowing Beach for more than 55 years.
“When we first came to Fallon, our son Chris was 2 1/2 years old,” Norma recalled. “During football season on Monday nights, we had the team over to view previous game film. Chris always climbed up and sat with Jack, and they watched film together. That's just one small memory of Jack's capacity of caring for and serving others.”
Beeghly has been friends with Beach for decades. For the past five years, both men have served together on the Greenwave Hall of Fame committee.
“We had only three coaches,” Beeghly recalled. “Tony was the disciplinarian, (Bobby) Dudley was the energy guy and Jack was the balance — cool under pressure.”
Beeghly said he found Beach approachable and was never afraid to talk to him. Beach always offered solid advice and had a strong football presence about him.
“He was a very smart player, knew the game well,” Beeghly said. “He wasn’t fast but maybe suddenly quick,” Beeghly said, noting how Beach was on who used his mind.
Even when Beach coached, Beeghly said his mentor became the voice of reason.
Jack Beach umpires a high-school baseball game against Elko in May 2021.
As an umpire, fellow official Mike Evans said Beach was the best to calm a situation with coaches and players. Evans and more than a dozen umpires wore their dark blue shirts to pay tribute to Beach.
“Jack was the calmest on the field,” Evans said. “Other teams felt Jack was a good umpire and very fair.”
Even when a coach chirped at Beach for an entire game on his strike zone, Evans said he couldn’t believe his colleague’s demeanor. In a 4A game between North Valleys and Carson High School years ago on a cold, windy day, Beach stood behind the plate, and Evans patrolled the bases.
The two teams scored 23 combined runs, but Evans said Beach had a very liberal strike zone that day for both teams. The North Valley coach, a friend of Evans, whined about balls and strikes. Evans told Beach to throw his friend out but Beach didn’t. Because of his coaching background, Beach knew the pressures parents placed on coaches.
“He had that great perspective of what he did as a player and a coach,” Evans said.
Beach loved coaching but Evans said it was a great release for Beach as an umpire to get lost on the ballfield and worry about nothing else. Then, Evans added, Beach would go home and think about the game and what he could’ve done differently. Beach had a 50/50 split when he umpired baseball and softball, but he never called a game when Kasey was coaching.
“He treated Kasey like the other players,” Evans said. “He said there was a good relationship between Kasey and her dad.”
He also worked summer and tournament games. Evans said Beach refereed basketball games and officiated some volleyball matches. He never did football games.
Evans said he knew of the legend of Jack Beach before he met him. As the years passed, Beach led the softball officials chapter for six years, and Evans said Beach wanted to make the chapter better: “He was so impartial. Churchill County to him was the epitome of Sports Town USA.”
Jack Beach, upper right, quarterbacked the Greenwave in 1966 and 1967.