Homewood-Flossmoor boys track coach Nate Beebe wants to be real. He believes it’s one of the key elements to being a good coach.
“They say ‘You can’t fool kids and dogs.’ If you’re not authentic and real with the kids and with your staff, they’re not going to do the things that are needed,” he said. “I’d also say a level of selflessness (is important). That’s how I try to conduct myself. It’s not about me. It’s about the kids and it’s about the program.”
The philosophy proved effective for Beebe in 2023. He was named the state coach of the year by both the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations this week after coaching the Vikings to the state championship in May.
The ITCCA honor is a vote of track and cross country coaches from around the state.
“It feels good that my peers do recognize me. It makes me feel good to see that people don’t think I’m an (idiot),” he said. “I think we all enjoy being validated by our peers.”
H-F track athletes have nothing but good things to say about Beebe, as well.
The sprinters from last spring’s championship squad spoke glowingly about Beebe. The importance of bringing him his first state title was easy to hear as they talked about the brotherhood and sense of pride he and his staff helped foster, as well as the technical detail they taught.
While Beebe deflects credit to the athletes and his staff, he admits that type of program culture isn’t an accident.
“It’s been a conscious effort. I’m trying to foster leaders and in order to do that, I need to present proper leadership,” Beebe said. “There’s a level of service. A lot of times, ‘service’ has a negative connotation like ‘servant.’ We try to get the kids to understand that, as a coaching staff, we’re here to serve them.”
Beebe’s served H-F for 20 years, the last 10 as head coach. He coached 33 state qualifying relays including five state champions, 65 individual state qualifiers — 28 of which earned all-state — and one state champion. He guided the Vikings to nine South West Suburban Conference titles, four sectional championships, state runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019 and last year’s title.
That success isn’t accidental, either.
There was never a time Beebe wasn’t on the track. His father, Dick, was an H-F track and football coach for 27 years until he retired in 2003. Nate Beebe said he remembers coming to practices as a kid before running for his dad.
Beebe said he modeled some of his coaching style from what he saw in those days. If not for that time, he said he’d probably be doing something else.
“I always appreciated how much his athletes were committed to him and would come back to visit or stay in touch,” he said. “We’re still two different people and coaches, in many ways, but we’re also very similar.”
More than anything else, honors like the NFHS and ITCCA awards are confirmation that Vikings track is on the right path, Beebe said.
There’s still work to do, though.
“I want to win. I’m competitive. You don’t generally win these awards if you’re not winning,” he said. “It’s my goal, and I’m very fortunate to have a staff that has the same goal I do, to make H-F track and field the No. 1 program in the state for as long as we are together. I want people, when they think of Illinois high school track and field in the 2020’s, to remember that H-F was the best.”