News Article Details

Special Olympics looking for new cycling head coach

High Point Enterprise - 1/20/2018

Jan. 20--HIGH POINT -- After 27 years of coaching athletes with disabilities to the finish lines of cycling events, Mike Beeson is ready to let another leader take the reins.

You could say the Special Olympics of North Carolina'sHigh Point cycling team is his child. He has led it -- raised it -- since its inception in 1991. But he will turn 65 this year and his wife just retired, and they want to travel and see and do things they haven't had the chance to yet.

"It's a good time for them to make the move," Beeson said. "It's pretty tough to let go of that. But that's one of the reasons we're talking now. I'm trying to come up with a replacement so the team can continue on."

The team is looking for a new head coach who can work this upcoming season alongside Beeson, who will then officially step away after the 2018 season. That way, the new coach will have a year's knowledge under their belt and the formal transition will go much smoother, he said.

But even with that in mind, he knows he won't step away entirely.

"I would love to, if I'm available, go out and practice with them," he said. "We're always available for information concerns. We want to help the new regime with the contacts we have. I enjoy this so much that I don't see myself stepping away 100 percent. But a lot of the things that we want to do now in retirement require travel."

Beeson first became involved with the Special Olympics 30 years ago when his boss offered him one afternoon a week off of work if he would help the group.

Cycling first came to North Carolina for the Special Olympics in 1991. Beeson was sought out for the job of coaching the cycling team since he was well known for being an avid cyclist and triathlete. He was leery at first.

"Having seen and been involved with several crashes -- I didn't want to see these folks in that type of situation," he said. "But I agreed to go and see what the team was all about."

WIth his knowledge, he found out how to eliminate the crashes. Along with two other coaches, Beeson got to work with the team. But two weeks in, the two other coaches left. At that time, there were only a handful of athletes on the cycling team, so Beeson was able to recruit a few cycling friends to help him out.

Over time, his reputation grew and he was soon appointed as the director of cycling for the state for the Special Olympics.

He said one of the greatest challenges of coaching the Special Olympics is addressing each individuals' needs and accommodate those to the best of his ability. That only became more of a strain as the number of participants ticked up -- at one point there were 33 athletes. But more coaches came on board to help even it out.

For Special Olympics cycling, the athletes can participate in sprints like a 500-meter cycle, or a 40K road race. They train for about three months before the state competition, which is held in High Point each year. Beeson said the coaches work the athletes very hard during practice.

"We've laughed. We've cried," he said. "We've had a number of situations where I've seen athletes do things that were just unbelievable. Unexpected. In different circumstances, I've picked athletes up from the road with skinned up knees and elbows, and put them back on their bikes because they wanted to finish the competition."

So far, the other coaches involved with team aren't interested in the position, Beeson said. It is a big responsibility. But he fears the team may go under if nobody steps up.

More Information

To get more information on the open position for head coach for Special Olympics of High Point's cycling team, email Mike Beeson at mbeeson@triad.rr.com.

The person needs to have an interest in working with disabled people and learn how to properly train them in competitive cycling. Beeson said the individual would be taught everything they'd need to know about cycling in the Special Olympics.

Loaded with hundreds of memories, Beeson said it's not easy to think of the upcoming weeks without the tean.

"It's something that I feel like from an early age, I was destined to do. With a lot of the things that happened to me, personally, in my younger life, I feel -- it's hard to explain -- but I feel I was destined to be Hayley Beeson's father," he said of his daughter, who was born with Down syndrome. "And I feel like I was supposed to work with these folks. It's been very exciting for us, fun for us. We've learned more from the athletes than they've learned from us."

SButzer@hpenews.com -- 336-888-3617 -- @HPEStephanie

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(c)2018 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.)

Visit The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) at www.hpenews.com

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