West Geauga’s girls’ basketball team claimed an exciting 71-67 win over visiting Independence on Saturday. The win was the sixth of the season for the Wolverines but the 700th in the career of head coach Bob Beutel.
“Going into (Saturday) night, I was aware that it could be 700 but the game was so huge for our program and for these kids so that took front stage for me,” Beutel said. “These kids winning that game, that was front stage for me. It was nice to get to 700, I don’t want to minimize it, but it was huge for these kids.”
Beutel began his head coaching career during the 1981-82 season at Eastlake North. He guided the Rangers for the next 25 years then spent the next dozen at Gilmour Academy.
At Gilmour, Beutel led the Lancers to the 2017 Division III state championship.
Now in his 38th season, Beutel hasn’t changed his philosophy of surrounding himself with quality people.
“I’m surrounded by a whole bunch of people who are still with me through all these years, some as players, some as players and coaches and so on,” he said. “Some of the people were around me when I had 200, 300 and they’ve been around for all the different milestones, which is really kind of cool for me to have people around me that long.”
Beutel developed that mindset after reading a book from former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes.
“When I talk about it a lot of the kids don’t even know who I’m talking about but he has a book that says you win with people and I’m such a believer in that and not just players, but people who surround you,” Beutel said. “I’ve been so fortunate to have, for the most part, people who have just been super around me.”
For Beutel, nobody has been more important than his wife and longtime assistant Claudia.
“As an assistant coach, I haven’t really stopped to count up the exact number of wins for her as an assistant but it’s got to be over 550,” Beutel said. “I don’t think there are many assistant coaches out there who can claim 550 victories as an assistant.”
Beutel’s impact already has made a difference at West Geauga.
The Wolverines, who finished 1-22 last winter, opened the 2018-2019 season with four straight wins before dropping their next three games.
West Geauga snapped that losing streak with a 41-34 win at Erie McDowell, which also served as a team bonding session.
That trip paid dividends in more ways than one.
“I’ve always been a believer in travel because when you come home, you’re kind of a different team,” Beutel said. “That was pointed out to me this morning by Claudia. It’s kind of ironic that we take a trip to PA and then we come home and win a big game like that over Independence.”
Independence entered the game with a 7-1 record. The Blue Devils’ lone blemish was a loss to Division I Eastlake North in the semifinals of the Andrews-Osborne tournament.
“The turnaround was really important,” Beutel said. “These last two games were really important to the kids.”
West Geauga returns to action at Beachwood on Jan. 5.