Chelsea Dery, Beckham, receive state honors
TWINING — Arenac Eastern’s girls basketball coach Butch Beckham has been named by sports writers as the Class D coach of the year, and AE senior forward Chelsea Dery has been recognized with all-state honors.
“Absolutely not,” was Beckham’s response when asked if he ever saw this coming. “There’s a lot of good coaches out there that have been at it a lot longer than I have.”
He has coached at AE for only three years, and in that time, Beckham turned a program that was averaging about four wins a year into a juggernaut. AE has won district titles the last two years, and delivered the school its first girls basketball North Star League title this past season. The Lady Eagles finished the season at 21-2.
Beckham told the Independent his coaching philosophy has always been “defense first.”
“We strive on defense,” he said. “Offensively, what you can do and what you can’t do all depends on your personnel, but anyone can play well on defense.”
He did acknowledge, though, that garnering the coach of the year award did depend on his personnel this year.
“This honor doesn’t come without the kids,” he said.
Writers with the Associated Press in Michigan put Dery on the all-state team in a season in which her numbers were actually down in the box score. However, Dery, who averaged about 10.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds a night, was the inspirational leader for her team, playing on a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the Eagles’ best season ever.
Beckham wasn’t surprised at Dery’s recognition.
“I thought she was good enough last year,” he said, adding Dery averaged around 18 points a night in the 2008-09 season. “She certainly was a valuable part of our team; that’s for sure.”
Dery would often play through wince-inducing pain that was visible to spectators, but never missed a game due to her bad ACL. As a precaution, she would also ice her knee on the bench when she came out of a game.
“You just hoped when every game passed that you had her for the next one,” Beckham said.
Dery will play at Concordia University next year.