Netflix’s documentary series focuses on Laney College in season 5 of “ Last Chance U, ” meaning coach John Beam is brought into the national spotlight.
Beam is a Hall of Fame football coach who should be a bit different from the coaches we’ve already seen on the program. Of course, it’s hard for anyone to match Coach Jason Brown’s intensity from seasons 3 and 4, but Beam will mainly be a change of pace for viewers.
Beam has been coaching for a long time, starting in 1979 at Serra High School in San Diego as an offensive line coach. He eventually moved to Skyline High School, where he became head football coach in 1987. During his time with Skyline, Beam won 15 league championships, 11 section championships, and had four unbeaten seasons. He finished with a record of 160-33-3 at Skyline.
He joined Laney in 2004 as a running backs coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator the following season. He became Laney’s head coach in 2012 and has retained a .600 career winning percentage while in charge.
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We’ll break down five interesting facts about Beam below.
1. John Beam sent more than 100 players to D1 level as a high school coach
We’ve already discussed Beam’s time as a high school coach above, but this really shows how good he was at developing talent. According to Laney Athletics website, Beam “produced more Division 1 players than anyone else in Northern California.” Laney Athletics estimates that number is over 100.
In an article about his departure from Skyline High School, the East Bay Times explained how important Beam was to the program.
Devastated by the crack epidemic that swept through American cities in the 1980s, many college recruiters treated Oakland with a three-foot pole. But Beam’s success at Skyline – he had more than 70 players earning scholarships to Division I or Division I-AA schools – showed that the talent was still there.
Beam raised the bar and everyone in Oakland took advantage.
To speak to the San Francisco Gate, Beam was talking about leaving Skyline.
“Many people talked about raising the bar for the young people (who) I coached, but I got the same amount back from them,” said Beam. “I just see it as a natural step to move from Skyline to Laney, since you’re serving the same community.”
2. He has produced over 20 players who have made it to the NFL
Laney Athletics says the number is between his time in college and Skyline High School. Some notable names include former Broncos that hark back to CJ Anderson, former Steelers Pro Bowl gear Marvel Smith, and former Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore. Seven of his players participated in the Super Bowl, including Anderson and Moore.
In a older interview with the NFL, Beam explained what he is looking for when developing talent. He explained that he wants the player to have a strong work ethic, be a competitor, and have fun.
“I want to see if the athlete is a competitor,” said Beam. “I want to know if he’s looking for the easy way out or looking for challenges. This is both in the classroom and on the field. Does the athlete want to be number 1? Will he or she take the biggest hurdle and try to I don’t care if he doesn’t make it, but I want to see if he tries to jump because then we can work on ways to improve it. “
3. He has a 90% graduation and transfer rate at Laney College
That’s an incredibly high percentage, and something Beam has been proud of in the past. During his NFL interview, Beam explained what made a successful high school student athlete football on and off the pitch.
“The ultimate measure of success is that the student finishes high school. What an achievement,” Beam said. “It started when you were six or seven years old and expanded over the next 13 years of your life and you completed it by taking the course, going to class, doing assignments, surrounding yourself with positive people , contribute to your school, both on the field and in the classroom, deal with the hurdles by asking for help, resetting your goals, etc. So complete that goal, which is a success – especially in the communities in which I work, where 50% of the young males of color fall from high school every year. “
4. His players win everywhere
As Laney Athletics pointed out that Beam has produced winning talent everywhere. We already talked about his 20 NFL players and 100+ Division 1 players, but he also produces winners. According to Laney, Beam has produced a winner in the NCAA Division 1 National Championship, NCAA Division 3 National Championship, Canadian Gray Cup, NFL Europe Championship, Arena League Championship and the Super Bowl.
5. He went the extra mile, even for players who were not his
According to The Times Herald, Beam has really done his best for the players in his community.
With all due respect to everyone associated with the Raiders, the godfather of Oakland football is John Beam, Laney’s head football coach and athletic director. For nearly 40 years – 22 years at Skyline High, 16 at Laney – Beam is probably the biggest football booster the city has known. In many cases, those efforts were probably unknown.
For years, Beam worked behind the scenes to ensure that Oakland high school children got their rights. He would call journalists to encourage players to qualify for a post-season honor, thinking that the extra exposure might help them earn a scholarship. In almost every case, those Oakland kids didn’t even play for him.
Beam is proud to represent Oakland and wants to see players from the region shine.
How many NFL players and NBA players have come out of this 400,000 city? A lot of. Why is that? We think Oakland is special. And I hope so (“Last Chance U”) renders our city, “Beam told The Mercury News.