Looking at the reaction of his 5-year-old son, Matt Beam knew he was destined to be the head football coach at Newton-Conover HIgh School.
"My son, Davis, went through his room dressed up in all red saying 'alright dad, I'm ready to go,’” Beam said. “I really knew then if my family would be alright with it, I would be alright with it. We're excited about the opportunity.”
The former Burns head coach was approved Monday by the Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education to lead the N-CHS football program this fall.
Beam is hoping to transform a team that went 2-9 this past season,but go much deeper than wins on the gridiron.
“I love coaching football and I'm a teacher, but I really carry a lot of hats,” he said. “I carried a ton of hats at Burns. That is why it has been so absolutely difficult to leave. It’s the fact that I do throw my whole life into my program. I care for kids. I love kids. I want to see kids be successful. I want to reach out and see them be active members in the community and quality contributors to society. I know that sounds like a general blanket statement, but I honestly believe that as a football coach, I can make a tremendous impact on young men's lives."
An East Lincoln grad, Beam was very familiar with the Red Devils.
His father, Wes, was a former head coach at West Lincoln High School, and Beam also coached with Newton-Conover Associate Superintendent Aron Gabriel.
"My father coached against coach (Don) Patrick for many years,” Beam said. “We played Newton-Conover often. When I went to North Lincoln, we had a scrimmage deal with Newton-Conover. Coach (Nick) Bazzle is one of my close friends. I really respect what he did at Newton. I was familiar with Newton-Conover being a school that is really driven towards success all across the board in athletics and in academics. I thought that was something that really attracted me. I am really, really excited about having the opportunity to go up there and be their football coach."
Going from a county with four high schools to being in the sole spotlight at N-CHS, Beam embraces the challenge.
"Nobody can put more pressure on me than me,” he said. “I enjoy that. I really relish that role. That is part of the reason why I do what I do. I hope all the lights are on not me, but our program, and we put a product out there that everybody is going to be proud of."
Family played a large part in Beam’s decision to leave the Bulldogs for the Red Devils — especially his wife of nearly 10 years, Ashley.
"She has been my backbone and support figure in all of this,” Beam said of his wife. “She knows in the coaching world that one day you could get a phone call that takes you somewhere else. She's accepted that."
Beam is the father of two boys — 8-year-old Jackson and 5-year-old Davis — as well as a 3-year-old daughter, Emma.
“They are the light of my life,” Beam said of his kids. “Sometimes, I think I have to step back. I've really matured the past nine years of being a head coach of making sure I spend enough time with them."
“My boys absolutely love football,” he added. “They'll be running around I'm sure out there at Gurley Stadium. My daughter is the biggest cheerleading princess you've ever seen. She'll probably be right there beside the cheerleaders screaming."
Beam addressed the current football coaching staff at Newton-Conover on Tuesday, as well as returning Red Devil football players.
"We just had a general introduction meeting,” Beam said. “I talked to the players about 30 minutes. I was really pleased. I thought we had some really good character young men. I think they are really excited. I think that group just needs some stability."
As for his offensive and defensive approaches, Beam didn’t go into specifics, but he does have an idea of where he’d like to take the Red Devils.
"Our defensive scheme is to fly around and stunt people and allows our kids to make plays,” Beam said. “Our offensive scheme is one that everybody loves to play in. It's a fast-paced one. Newton has been a run-heavy oriented team in its existence. We're going to spread them out and toss the ball around at Newton. People are going to be really excited. If you are going to be an excellent coach, you have to be able to work towards your personnel."
While these changes could present some problems at first for his players, Beam is excited to get past those road bumps and start building what he hopes will be an extremely successful program.
"It's going to be a different learning curve for the players,” Beam said. “I feel like we'll be able to take advantage of some really skilled people that we have, and I look forward to big things soon. I feel like we have an awesome plan to go out and be successful in the full scope."