ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills baseball coach Jerry Beck has been coaching them up, so to speak, for a long time. So long, in fact, that he’s decided he needs a break.
The Thunder coach, who has led DH to the state championship game the past two years, stepped down from his post this week after leading the team since the school opened in 2008. Desert Hills compiled a 91-66 record under his tutelage and is the two-time defending Region 9 champion. The Thunder went a perfect 12-0 in region in 2013 and defended that title with a 9-3 record this past season.
Before building Desert Hills into a baseball powerhouse, Beck coached Snow Canyon to tremendous success. The Warriors were a mainstay in the state tournament while Beck led them and won the 3A State Championship in 2002.
However, the tremendous commitment of being a head coach has taken its toll on Beck and his family.
“I took the month of June off this summer in hopes of recharging the batteries. Unfortunately this didn’t happen and the fire just isn’t there like it used to be,” Beck wrote in a letter to team members and parents on the DHills Baseball Facebook page. “My priorities have changed over the past year and I’m ready to really focus in on helping my own kids be the best that they can be at whatever they choose to do.”
Beck is the father of four, including daughter Addie, who just graduated from Desert Hills High School after starring on the DH softball team, as well as daughters Allie, Averee and his lone son, Ripken. Ripken, who was named after Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken, just turned 3-years-old in March.
Desert Hills principal Rusty Taylor said the coach’s resignation came as a surprise, but not a shock.
“As administrators, we always keep our minds open to this possibility because we know the toll coaching takes on a person’s family,” Taylor said. “We’re never surprised when a coach calls it quits. With the hours they put in — they’re all crazy for doing it anyway.”
Taylor said Beck’s dedication to his players and his job was evident.
“Jerry always made sure the focus was on improving young men and he let the wins and losses take care of themselves,” he said. “He loved his boys and always tried to make decisions based on what was best for them as people.”
In Beck’s 10 years as head coach at Snow Canyon and Desert Hills, his teams won five region titles, finished third or higher at State seven times and played in the 3A championship game five times.
“Jerry was one of our original coaches at Desert Hills and to start a program and establish a tradition and culture is a tall order for anyone,” Taylor said. “He not only did that, but developed a really strong program and fostered a culture of hard work on the field and in the classroom.”
Taylor said he has not established a timeline for hiring a new coach, though he did mention that there are no teaching positions available at the St. George school, which means DH’s new coach will have to either be a current teacher in the district or an outside member of the community that coaches part-time.
“It’s always a good thing to have a coach in the building who understands the ins and outs of the school,” Taylor said. “We are interested in finding someone who will continue the program on the path we’re going.”
Though he is no longer the baseball coach, Beck will continue his duties as a guidance counselor at Desert Hills High School.
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