Integrity issue clouds varsity football program’s direction |

Integrity issue clouds varsity football program’s direction

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

South Tahoe High varsity football players report to practice in less than two weeks, but it’s unclear who will be coaching them.

An ethical dilemma may prevent Eric Beavers from guiding the Vikings for a second season. The former University of Nevada star quarterback thinks he’d be tainting his integrity if he coaches a 2002 varsity team comprised of mostly “undedicated” players.

“I need to keep my integrity and teach kids that your word has meaning,” Beavers said.

Beavers and his coaching staff informed potential players during a January team meeting that there would be greater expectations and commitment to remain in the program. Sixty-plus players agreed to an increased emphasis on weight lifting and conditioning in the off-season.

However, some of those players began losing interest in the program in the spring, cutting the pool of dedicated players in half.

“A lot of kids have said it’s too hard, or they quit, or they haven’t held up their end of the bargain where they’ve been cutting our weight lifting class or not lifting after school if they missed our class,” Beavers said.

Hence, Beavers sensed it would be difficult to field a varsity team in the fall. Only three seniors, eight juniors and 20 sophomores have fulfilled Beavers’ off-season conditioning requirements.

“My biggest concern is that I said this is the way it had to be, and I have a core of kids who have done it,” Beavers said. “If I let everybody back on and say, ‘I know I said it, but it’s a little too inconvenient to hold to that,’ then these kids are learning that I only hold my word when it’s convenient to do so. I don’t want to teach that.”

With a majority of the dedicated players being sophomores, Beavers proposed that administrators consider dropping the varsity team for a season or allow him to become a figurehead for the entire program while he coaches the dedicated group at the junior varsity level. In the latter proposal, another coach would oversee the varsity team.

“We would have a varsity team, and kids would be allowed to come back, but that’s not my team, so I could maintain my integrity and my word has meaning,” Beavers said. “Maybe football should just be fun and from August to November. I’m comfortable with somebody doing that but not me. It’s not my personality, and I think football has the possibility of being the best class on campus. You can teach so much.”

STHS administrators Karen Ellis and Jack Stafford are reportedly considering those options and the possibility that they’ll need to find another head football coach. They were unavailable for comment on Thursday.

However, STHS Athletic Director Don Borges said no coaching change has taken place.

“Eric Beavers is our coach right now,” Borges said. “He’s a great coach and maybe the hardest-working coach I’ve ever been associated with.”

Beavers indicated that he won’t resign because he doesn’t want to teach students that it’s OK to quit.

Beavers believes his after-school class on the gridiron can teach students qualities of fulfilling responsibilities to others and not leaving until the job is done right.

“I’ve had some kids say that it’s just not fun,” Beavers said. “What I’ve tried to express is that we’re an educational institution; this is not recreation time. Football is deeper than fun. It’s about learning what it’s like when you strive to reach your potential and come close to doing that … it’s a certain amount of joy that you have. It’s not the same as hanging out with your buddies on a Friday night.”

Kory Collins is one of three seniors who has been accountable to the conditions laid out by the coaching staff in January.

“There wasn’t a time during a four-month period where I wasn’t sore,” Collins said. “Nobody thought it would be that hard.

“I just like playing football, and I know it will make me a better player. Everybody was getting a lot bigger and stronger; even the kids who didn’t come all the time, they were getting a lot stronger.”

Borges said the school will continue to offer the same number of football teams as in previous years.

“There has been a rumor circulating that we will have a couple of teams, but we’ll field three football teams this fall,” Borges said.

If the school had chosen to eliminate the varsity team, Collins’ prep football would have ended. Seniors can’t suit up for the junior varsity.

“As long as there is a varsity team, I’ll be happy … as long as I get to play,” Collins said.

And Collins hopes that somehow Beavers returns as his coach.

“I’d like Eric to be my coach. He’s a great coach and has good intentions for the team,” Collins said.

“I’ve learned about coverages, what to do in formations and dedication. He also won’t take anything less than perfect. If your shirt isn’t tucked in, you’ll have to run. You learn how to respect people a lot more.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.